by Lisa Tome
Although she's retired from teaching Science there, Kathy Morton is still making an impact at Rising Sun Middle School. Morton and other members of the Janes United Methodist Church Missions Team, provide weekend meals to needy students at the school. This is the second year of the church's Backpack Ministry. The ministry provides seven meals and snacks - Friday dinner, and three meals and a snack for Saturdays and Sundays - to children at the school to eat on the weekends. The food is given to students in a discreet manner so other students aren't aware they have a need.
Joyce Williams, missions team member, said that in the first year of the ministry, the church served 18 students. This year, it climbed to 21. "We are dedicated to it," said Williams. She explained that Morton anchors the program and does most of the shopping. Church members pitch in and donate to the ministry by leaving items in a church donation box. "We don't know any of the kids," said Williams.
The food which the students receive is pre-packed convenience items which they can prepare for themselves. That includes canned soup and pasta, EZ Mac, oatmeal packs, cereal bars, individual packs of cheese or peanut butter crackers, raisins, fruit cup or applesauce, microwavable non perishable dinners, individual cereal boxes, breakfast bars, and similar items.
Williams said since the ministry has grown, the church is working to accommodate that. Some church members donate an offering specifically for the ministry. They also collect items for it during the annual Vacation Bible School. New shelving is being installed in a vacant stairway to hold the donations. "It's (the backpack ministry) here to stay," said Williams.
Anyone who would like to contribute to the Backpack Ministry for students at Rising Sun Middle may send a check to Janes UMC at P.O. Box 242, Rising Sun, Md. 21911. Please specify on the memo line that the donation is for the backpack ministry. Food items may also be donated at the church, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. "I just think this is so important," said Williams. "If they are hungry, they can't focus. It's amazing how here in Rising Sun there is this need."
Rising Sun Middle School principal Dr. Stuart Hutchinson said that the school's attendance improves on Thursdays, the day in which the food is sent home with students. The meals are packed Wednesdays at the church and delivered on Thursdays. "Missions is in the heart of the people here," said Williams.
Janes UMC is involved in other missions projects both locally and afar. The men's group is working to do basic emergency home repairs for those in need in the community. The church also provides local emergency assistance with food, heat, and other needs.