Monday, February 27, 2017

Doers and Talkers

Michelle Spanos with Honduran kids
Trish recently suggested that I speak to Michelle Spanos, a member of Edgewater Alliance Church in Edgewater, Florida about how the church pulled together its backpack drive. Since I’m the sort of person who will strike up a conversation with the person standing behind me in line at the checkout, I’m always eager to talk to someone new. I’ve got to tell you, I found my phone call with Michelle to be a bit convicting.

If you’re a regular Sowers4Pastors blog reader, you know that Edgewater Alliance Church is actively involved with the Manna 4 Lempira and sister church sponsorship programs. Now, it’s simple enough to ask a person sponsoring a particular child to fill a backpack with school supplies and goodies for that child. But, what about the children without a sponsor? Edgewater Alliance had a No Child Left Out policy and Michelle Spanos set out to do everything in her power to fill each and every backpack Allen had sent them.

Bloom Where You’re Planted

Walt Disney once said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” Michelle somehow manages to be both a talker and a doer. She’s also someone who makes the most of any opportunity. So, when Michelle was diagnosed with cancer, she found herself spending an inordinate amount of time in doctors’ offices. That’s when a lightbulb went off in her head and she asked a couple of the offices if they would set up a donation spot to collect school supplies. They did. In her estimation, enough supplies were collected to fill about 35 backpacks. Brilliant!

Making the Most of Every Opportunity

Even though her back bedroom becomes a sort of school supply closet during the backpack drive season, Michelle knows it’s not a one woman show. The congregation of Edgewater Alliance filled many backpacks, plus Michelle had a youth group from another church get involved. The children’s ministry at EAC collected change until they had enough to fill six backpacks. (The children’s ministry will also be writing letters to the kids not yet sponsored, so everyone will get a letter!) In all, that little corner of Florida was responsible for filling 270 backpacks, which means that 270 children in Honduras have the necessary supplies for school!

Michelle is no stranger to Honduras. She went on her first visit in 2014. In 2015, she went again to help Rachel with MK Camp. Her husband went on a mission trip in 2016. And, just last month, Michelle was a part of the team from Edgewater Alliance that went to deliver backpacks and provide well-child checkups. She described what it was like to pass out the backpacks.

Better than Christmas Morning

Because they were also delivering new shoes to the children, the visiting team thought to put each child’s new shoes in his or her backpack. She said, “Kids went up to get their photo taken and we would take their shoes and put them in the backpacks. Just from that first little glimpse into a backpack, we got to see their faces light up. It was like Christmas 100 times over! We saw them walk away with their backpacks and come back later wearing a new hat or carrying a doll.”

Seeing the children receive the backpacks has provided a bit of inspiration for Michelle. She has new ideas of things to go in the backpacks. It was chilly when the team of there and the children were wearing short sleeves. She thinks items like sweatshirts might be a welcome addition.

Looking Ahead

It’s never too early to gear up for the next backpack drive and Michelle already has her mind on back-to-school sales. She said the last drive came together very quickly and they only caught the tail end of the sales. Even so, she said she and Edgewater Alliance’s college group bought out two different Walmarts’ supply of glue sticks. She loved pushing shopping carts full of notebooks and other supplies and knowing those supplies were going to help children received educations.

Michelle said, “I have a heart for them to hear about the Lord, but these children are also getting fed! And this is way we can help them to learn.”

She’s even made a little video entitled “Journey of a Backpack” and is eagerly anticipating seeing the photos of the next group from Edgewater Alliance to visit Honduras. She wants to fill the backpacks, and she also has the goal of encouraging people to get down there and see for themselves. Yep. She’s a doer and a talker!

Click here to view video

 - posted by Christi

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