OPERATION BACKPACK in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico

"Several weeks ago, I received an email ‘out of the blue’ from a woman living in New York who was asking for information about our Backpack Program. She said she had read about it on the website, and was interested in helping. She asked about the needs for school supplies. I informed Adasa that we would be grateful for any donations in the way of supplies or food assuming she was either coming to Puerto Rico or had a friend or family member here. I gave her a list of school supply needs: pencils, rulers, notebooks etc. as well as food items that we always need: tuna, granola bars, canned pasta, etc.

About a week later, I was surprised to find a very large and heavy box from Amazon in Pastor Bob’s office with my name on it! Aren’t surprises great?! Wondering what I had ordered, I opened the box. To my delight I found it was filled with school supplies, tuna, granola bars and cans of Chef Boyardee! It was like blessings raining down from heaven. There was no invoice or documents in the box, and it took me a few moments to realize that this had to have come from Adasa!! 

She had just gone online and ordered things from Amazon and in a matter of days the students would be benefiting from this gift. It had never dawned on me to ask for donations from outside of Puerto Rico - even though we have received some very generous monetary gifts in the past. And soon thereafter a second box from Adasa arrived!  

I am very grateful to Adasa for her donation of food, as I am to Ivelisse, Brenda, Kris, Tim, the Yosts, and so many others who donate food (not to mention Yoav Cohen from Gad Eden, and Omar from Costco!), and I challenge those of you out there to follow her example! If you have Amazon Prime there are lots of pantry items with free shipping. Your donation, particularly of food items would be such a tremendous blessing!"

 To find out further information or if you would like to help with a monetary or food donation, please go to www.secondunion.org or contact Christie at christie.curie@gmail.com. Below is an article also in the September 2017 Second Union Church Newsletter providing more information on the Backpack Program.

"Our Backpack Program is growing . . . and changing. The Juanillo Fuentes Elementary School we have been working with since April of 2014 has been closed by the Departamento de Educación. Sadly, they were one of the 176 schools that was forced to close as a part of the department’s austerity measures. And while this presented a challenge for our Backpack Program, it also presented an opportunity. 

We have been sensing God leading us to expand this program, but we felt that we were meeting the needs at Juanillo Fuentes with the 32 students in the program. The closing of the school forced us to look beyond as the students who were a part of the program were enrolling in several different schools.  With the help of Hugo Robles, the Juanillo Fuentes social worker who has been instrumental in the success of this program from its inception, we have focused on two schools in the Guaynabo area. 

Loraine Colón and I met with the directors and social workers at The Urban Elementary School of Guaynabo (a.k.a. La Urbana) and La Escuela Elemental Santa Rosa III. Both schools are very enthusiastic about incorporating the Backpack Program into their schools, and so rather than choose one, I felt the Lord leading us to provide the program in both schools.  

We are now in the student selection process at the schools, a task which rests in the hands of the social workers and the teachers. Once they have identified the group of students, we will begin delivering the backpacks to the students. We hope this will take place by the second week of September. This does present a logistical challenge as we will need to divide up into two groups to make our Friday afternoon deliveries. 

We are praying that God will provide the hands that we need, and we are trusting Him to do just that. Our present goal is 20 students at each school. The unfortunate side of this new panorama is that the students which have been receiving the backpacks may no longer be eligible for the program. Approximately 60% of our Backpack students will be attending one of these two schools, but the others have enrolled in different schools; therefore they will not qualify. 

In addition the social workers will evaluate the needs of the entire student body, so many of the students we have come to know and love will no longer be able to participate if their needs are not as great. We will of course continue to help those families who really need assistance in whatever way we can. Our tutoring program will also begin once the students have been identified. Initially, we will only be offering tutoring at Santa Rosa III. In the future, if we have enough volunteer tutors, we might offer tutoring at “La  Urbana” as well."

Articles from Second Union Church September 2017 Newsletter

www.secondunion.org

 

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