April 01, 2016

Missouri Conference church in the Mark Twain district has decided to reach out to help those who are most vulnerable at one of their greatest times of need. Unionville UMC has pulled together to create “Fostering Hope” backpacks for children who are removed from homes under sudden circumstances.
    
The idea came from the evangelism committee meeting last October. Ruth Hines is the committee chair. She stated that during the meeting, the committee members discussed new ideas for evangelism through mission. Rita Ingersoll shared an idea with the committee that was definitely something we wanted to implement. Rita stated:
    
“We have heard about cases in which children have to be removed from homes in the middle of night, and were given to foster families who weren’t prepared. They were waiting for the stores to open the next morning to get basic clothing, diapers and food. We decided we should do something to help these families get through those first 12 hours.”
    
The intent is to provide families with packages to support them in the transition. The idea snowballed into including the whole church. The sewing group made backpacks for the kits. Kylie Garr, a youth at the church, came up with the name “Fostering Hope” that has been embroidered by Marla Pace onto each pack.     
    
The local Division of Family Services office doesn’t have room to keep the kits, so they kits will be kept at the church and the DFS worker will have access to the church through Rita or Ruth. 
    
The goal is to have multiple kits for all ages and sizes available at a moment’s notice. The church already has 18 bags ready to go. Rev. Homer Poor said he’s glad to see the congregation come together on the effort. 
    
“They want to work in the community, and reach out in a way that will make a difference in people’s lives,” Poor said. 
    
The church is also working toward having a monthly get-together for area foster families, in which the church provides a meal and games, and the families can get to know each other. Church member Karen Dunkin used to care for foster children, and she thinks providing families with some fellowship time plus offering support and care, is a good idea. 
    
“When a foster child meets other children in their same situation, they feel a little less weird about what they are going through,” Karen said. 
    
The ministry has been something that everyone in the church has rallied around. 
    
“Our hearts bleed for children in these situations, and the foster parents who can be overwhelmed. This is just a little bit we can do to help,” Connie Kinne said. “When children are involved it really touches your heart.”