Bread of Life makes heading back to school a ‘bash’
By Traci Chapman
School supplies, backpacks, clothes, a new haircut – these are all things that are part of the back-to-school ritual.
They are also things some families don’t have or can’t afford. The Bread of Life Project recently worked to help change that. The third annual Back to School Bash helped more than 150 students get a good start on school, ready to go and with backpacks full of supplies, founder Kim Yoder said.
“Families who pre-register receive every single school supply on their school’s supply list – even the odd items like earbuds, play dough or baggies,” Yoder said. “Walk-ins are welcome too – we always have plenty of general school supplies to give out as well.”
The bash was held at Mustang Town Center and staffed by a group of volunteers as varied as the people they were helping. From church groups to students to hair stylists, each pitched in to help make families feel at home and get set for school, Yoder said.
“We were really fortunate to have so much help,” she said.
Yoder began Bread of Life Project in 2011. Wanting to help homeless and needy families, Yoder received a phone call from a group of women who wanted to join in on her efforts, she said.
“They had also been feeling led by God to serve the kids and families of our own community missions at home and found my website,” Yoder said. “We met, talked about our similar callings – to be the hands and feet of Jesus by serving our community – and have been together ever since.”
The group met with counselors across Mustang School District, kicking off food backpack and adopt-a-family programs for middle and high school students. As students return to school in August, the group will kick off its fourth year of sponsoring these programs, she said.
“The elementary schools were covered by the Oklahoma Food Bank, but we found out the older kids were falling through the cracks and going home hungry,” Yoder said. “The five of us meet every Tuesday night to pack the backpacks, plan out upcoming events, organize donors, sponsors and volunteers.”
The project’s sponsors and volunteers keep the project, and its various events, going, Yoder said. In addition to the Back to
School Bash, the project offers free financial peace and coupon classes each year, as well as a Christmas party, which for some families is the only holiday celebration they have. Last year, more than 200 people took part in the holiday party, she said. A new “Church Adopt a School Initiative” will begin with the start of school, connecting area churches with children and youth who need a helping hand, Yoder said.
“We rely 100 percent on the generosity of the community and we have never lacked a single thing we have needed; in fact, we always have more than enough,” Yoder said. “We are so blessed that God has chosen to use us in this way and has led so many to help us.”
While Bread of Life has volunteers and sponsors in place, the need is great and more help is always needed, Yoder said. Information can be found on the organization’s website, www.thebreadoflifeproject.com, or its Facebook page, which posts news and events at www.facebook.com/tbolp.
“The amazing thing about our group is that we are all from different churches in the community but we came together and continue to work together as a like-minded team, week after week, to help hungry kids and hurting families in Mustang,” Yoder said.
Bread of Life sponsors/community partners/volunteers
Helling Family Insurance – community partner and donor
Mustang Heights Baptist Church – clothing closet supplies all the clothes for the event
Ferguson Enterprises – provides all the food for the event
Canadian Valley Baptist Church – provides space for meetings, classes and event planning
Underwood Hotshot Service – community partner, donor, provides free storage space year-round
Henry Hudson’s Yukon – holds an annual auction and provides toys for the Christmas party, food for food pantry and school supplies for the back to school event
First Baptist Church of Mustang – Mother’s Day Out does yearly food and school supply drive, VBS does yearly school supply drives, Children’s Church volunteers stuff backpacks and do food drives
United Methodist Church of the Good Shepherd – provides space for events and school supplies
SW Oilfield – community partner and donor
Mustang High School Pon Pom Squad – volunteer at many events
Mustang High School baseball team – generous donors and volunteer at many events
Mustang High School National Honor Society – volunteer at many events