Bundles of Hope
NYC students go above and beyond with Bundles of Hope

Friday, July 15, 2011
Louisville, Kentucky

bundles-1.jpgMore than 8,000 children in Louisville, Kentucky, have no place to call home.

Even more children live in low-income homes where parents struggle to make ends meet.

This year’s Nazarene Youth Conference compassionate ministry initiative, Bundles of Hope, was initiated to meet the needs of the homeless and low-income families in Louisville, home to NYC 2011 – A World Unbroken.

Before the conference, NYC coordinators said Bundles of Hope was a chance for Nazarene youth to make a difference in the lives of thousands and display the message and hope of Christ to all.

They certainly came through.

In total, more than 35,000 items were collected for the Bundles of Hope project last week. Among the supplies collected were diapers in various sizes, formula, bottles, pacifiers, more than 6,000 diaper bags, wipes, ointments, and clothes.

When all the items were sorted, packaged, put on pallets, and shrink wrapped for shipment, there were enough supplies to fill six semi-truck trailers full.

“It was pretty awesome,” said Althea Taylor, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries USA/Canada coordinator who organized the project with Marty Hoskins of Global Mission and George Sisler of Work & Witness.

“I’m not very teary-eyed as a person,” Taylor said, “and when I first saw the product there, I thought ‘wow, that is a lot of stuff,’ but  when I actually saw it boxed and in pallets and shrink wrapped, I walked through all the pallets and I got choked up a little bit.

“This is really going to bless a lot of families.”

bundles-2.jpgTaylor said about 320 students and volunteers from nine districts sorted and packaged the supplies as part of their Ministry with Others project during NYC.

The items packaged for Bundles of Hope help offset some of the expenses a struggling single mom or dad may face, Taylor said. For a family on food stamps, they can’t use stamps to buy diapers, bottles, or diaper cream.

The supplies were distributed to about 20 Neighborhood Place sites in Kentuckiana – the greater Louisville area and across the Ohio River in Indiana.

Church ministries, area food pantries, and Wayside Ministries also received supplies.

The product was originally going to be picked up and delivered by Neighborhood Place, but when one of their directors came to the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) and saw the magnitude of supplies collected at NYC, she was astonished – and quickly made other plans.

They originally planned to load the supplies into mini vans and a 15-passenger van or two.

Dare to Care provided trucks to pick up the 24 pallets of supplies. Any leftover goods went to the Dare to Care Food Bank for further distribution.

Taylor was impressed with the creativity, dedication, and participation in the project.

She said Threads of Love, a group of grandmothers on the North Carolina District, knitted 1,800 hats for babies. One 88-year-old woman made 400 by herself. Every hat they made was delivered to NYC by the district and now the group will take on a new project when it’s identified.

A church on the Canada Atlantic District made their own diaper bags in order to save money and increase their contributions to the project.

Some districts included items for the parent(s) in their contributions, donating nail polish, hygiene supplies, and other goods for adults, such as slip covers for used furniture.

bundles-3.jpgExtra supplies from the Joplin, Missouri, tornado relief site were shipped to Louisville, including diapers and baby clothes. About 24 boxes were sent to Louisville from Joplin, which was in addition to the 35,000 items collected by the districts for NYC.

“It was a great experience to see the outpouring of generosity from the students and those who collected the items and brought them in,” Taylor said.

Word of the project spread quickly in downtown Louisville as employees at the KICC and people on the street approached Bundles of Hope leaders to ask how they could participate in receiving needed supplies. Every person, including one employee who said Neighborhood Place helped him get his apartment and back on his feet again, was directed to Neighborhood Place.

The partnership among NYC, NCM, the city of Louisville, Neighborhood Place, and others began more than a year ago, Taylor said.

When everything for the project was finally collected and ready for distribution, representatives from the city and Neighborhood Place were in shock.

“They were blown away,” Taylor said. “They said many groups over-promise and under-deliver. They said we totally over-delivered. That was good to know. They didn’t expect it.

“They were in tears.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer told Taylor he was thankful and appreciative for Bundles of Hope.

At NYC 2007 in St. Louis, the Ministry with Others focus was "Feeding of the 5,000," but due to compassionate and sacrificial giving, NYC was able to feed more than 10,000 St. Louis families for a week.

As in 2007, those who contributed to the 2011 project before and during NYC went above and beyond what was expected of them.

“It was really touching to see it,” Taylor said. “A lot of families are going to be blessed; a lot of babies.”