Ingram family helps make Backpacks for Kids successful

Published 9:15 am Saturday, September 24, 2022

Local resident Jenni Ingram and her family set out on a mission to help children in the community and achieved that by participating in Churchome’s “Backpacks for Kids” program.

The Ingram family has helped several local students through the “Backpacks for Kids” program.

Life changed in 2019 when Ingram had two massive strokes that made her housebound. During that time, she became affiliated with an online church in Seattle, Washington, named Churchome pastored by Judah Smith. Even though she and her husband Billy now attend Harmony Baptist Church here in Andalusia, she still attends Churchome.

At Churchome, she is a member of a group called “Uplift” that concentrates on ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus and lift the spirits of people in communities nationwide. This month’s project concentrated on kids, so the “Backpacks for Kids” project was born. Churchome partnered with One Child out of Tampa, Florida, and sent 1,850 backpacks and school supplies kits to be distributed. Each kit included a folder, notebook, pencils, pens, glue stick, erasers, pencil sharpener, and a ruler. There were also two meals for the weekend, which consisted of two cans of Chef Boyardee, two macaroni and cheese, two cereal boxes, and two granola bars.

According to Straughn Elementary School Counselor Mandi Morris, the Ingrams were able to provide 582 backpacks at SES Friday, Sept. 16, one for every single student.

“Each grade level lined up and walked outside to pick up their backpacks. All of our teachers and students were so appreciative. Their faces lit up like Christmas morning to get a new backpack, and everyone was in a great mood the entire day. We used it as a teachable moment to show that doing acts of kindness for others feels good to both parties and makes kindness contagious,” she said.

Morris added that the students and teachers were grateful for the family’s generosity. “The backpacks contained school supplies and a few weekend food items, which the kids loved. Easy Mac was one of the highlights for them, and I heard them exclaim that they could not wait to get home and eat it. We appreciate the Ingram family for thinking of us and supporting our school. We are blessed to have such a wonderful community. There’s no place like Straughn.”

Thanks to Samantha Sanders and Jenni Pate at All Safe Storage, all items were allowed to be stored immediately in a building donated for six days. Volunteers Billy Ingram, Samantha, Jeremy, Sara, and Raelynn Sanders, Ron Roeting, and Terry Moak assembled backpacks. They were then distributed to schools, a Covington County homeschool group, Covington County DHR, the Covington County Child Advocacy Center, and several preschools.

Covington County Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Mindy Barton was happy to receive donated backpacks for her organization.

This is the first time Churchome launched its “Backpacks for Kids” program locally.

“We are so incredibly grateful to be able to do this for children. The smiles and hugs we have gotten have truly made my heart smile. It’s amazing to me how we can be tired, sad, or whatever, and a child says thank you for my food. That makes you realize what a need there is, and suddenly, you are reenergized and ready to go get more for them. This has become my heart and soul since the plans were finalized. I never knew what total blessings we would receive and pray it is not the last time doing this wonderful project. We hope to expand next time and cover even more areas,” Ingram said.

With distribution of backpacks still ongoing, volunteers are seeking children in need as well as organizations dealing with children. To offer assistance email Jenni Ingram at narrowgateministriesal@gmail.com or text her at 334-892-4408.

For more information about Churchome, visit churchome.org.