Packing with care

Krystle Wagner • Oct 20, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Lines snaking around tables quickly moved as young Grand Haven students filled backpacks Thursday afternoon — but they weren’t for themselves.

Voyager School students partnered with volunteers to pack kits at First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Haven. The group packed 45 Care Kits for adults and 24 Wee Care Kits for children, which exceeded their original goal, said parent volunteer Beth Mears.

Care Kits include toiletries, snacks, socks, Band-Aids and more. The kits will be distributed by adults to homeless adults that they encounter throughout the day who could use the items.

Social workers, counselors, principals and others throughout Grand Haven Area Public Schools will distribute the Wee Care Kits, which contain books, snacks and stuffed animals. Young students will receive the kits in the event of foster care or custody transitions that happen and leave them without their belongings.

Mears said the kits will help show the individuals some love, compassion and comfort.

When volunteers from First CRC looked for ways to serve the community and their neighbors, they asked how they could help nearby students, said Joan Groenhout, the church’s event coordinator. At about the same time, Mears approached the church group about partnering for the kits. The idea stemmed from a similar event a few years ago at the church that Mears’ sister attends.

Beginning this school year, about 15-18 volunteers from First CRC also read to students each week.

Mears said she was blown away by support from community members and local businesses who donated items for the kits. Despite challenges that face some families, Mears said families also donated and contributed to the kits.

“The generosity was overwhelming,” she said.

Over the years, Voyager students have participated in community projects such as singing at Christian Haven Home and picking up garbage. Mears said they work hard to “build community” and encourage students to help others.

Mears said the volunteers “went above and beyond” to make it a fun afternoon for the kids. Following the packing, the students had snacks and watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

Mears said she hopes they can make creating and packing Care Kits and Wee Care Kits into an annual event.

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