School is almost out, and a local church has a mission to help those children in need during the summer months as students are away from school.
The Petal Jaycees strive to improve the community around them by creating positive change. Zachary Smith, vice president of individual development for the Petal Jaycees, said that is why they wanted to assist Petal First Baptist Church in its mission to help feed children in need in the heart of their community.
"We thought it was really a great cause to be involved in," Smith said. "We donated over 300 packets of peanut butter and jelly."
It's called Weekend Backpacks of Hope. Senior Pastor Brad Eubank, along with members of his congregation, deliver the bags every Friday.
"We realized there were a lot of families who, potentially, their kids might not eat every weekend," Eubank said. "We wanted to try and help where we could. So it started where we partnered with the primary school then we went to morphing into other things beyond the backpacks to try and make an impact in those kids' lives and in those family's lives."
Eubank said it started about three years ago, and they serve now about 130 K-2nd graders in Petal.
"We started something very small, and it has morphed into something really fun and big," Eubank said. "And we pray an impact for kids. So it means the world to me to get a hug from a kid. It means the world for a kid to come up and say thank you. And we have had some kids say, 'I would have not eaten this weekend if I wouldn't have gotten that food.'"
Every school in the Petal School District is sponsored by an area church. During the summer months, free meals are offered for children during the week through other school resources. Eubank and those who help in this mission said the ultimate gift is seeing the reaction on children's faces.
"Oh, just joy and happiness," Smith added.
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