In northern Michigan, three Christian Reformed congregations are working with Kids Hope USA and Hand 2 Hand Ministries to feed the minds and bodies of students in their local schools.
In October 2014 Lake City (Mich.) Christian Reformed Church began a Kids Hope mentoring program and a Backpack Ministry of weekend meal support with the city’s only elementary school. Volunteer director Jennifer Pugh organizes 13 mentors and prayer partners for the one-hour weekly sessions. “Because each one of these mentors has a prayer partner, the Holy Spirit is present and working during the mentoring hour and long after it’s over,” Pugh said. “We see kids’ lives changing and smiles starting. I’ve seen a change in the little girl that I mentor, and I’m hearing that with other mentors.”
Volunteers from a number of churches fill the backpacks with food for six meals and four snacks. The donated food is distributed weekly to 40 children who otherwise may not get enough to eat over the weekend. “I love the idea of a partnership of churches,” said Pugh, who coordinates both ministries for Lake City CRC. “We’re all in the community. We serve the same people and we love the same God.”
In McBain, Mich., Lucas CRC began its Kids Hope mentoring program in 2011, hiring director Angela Kamphouse to train and coordinate 10 mentors and their prayer partners as they serve students at McBain Elementary School. Rehoboth Reformed Church (RCA) also has a Kids Hope partnership with the school.
Cadillac (Mich.) CRC has run its Kids Hope mentoring program for 11 years and has employed director Beth Mulder to coordinate the program since 2008. The church is now participating in Kids Hope Next where a select group of mentor pairs who have graduated from the elementary program continue their relationship into middle school. This year Cadillac CRC has 16 elementary mentors, four middle school mentors, and 25 prayer partners participating.