Often I’ve been asked for a story. A story of a child we’ve helped. People say a story is a very compelling way to move the community into helping a cause and I believe they are right. When we see a man on the side of the street it becomes a habit to walk by and not help, and the more we pass by, the easier it becomes to ignore him. But if we stop and hear his story, it then compels us to move on his behalf. I think that’s why people are always asking me to put a face to one of our Buses n’ Backpacks stories. But as of now I’ve made a decision to say no.
I’ll tell stories but I use fake names. Imagine if you were the beautiful girl whose parents abandoned her last year. Would you want your story in the paper if you were discarded so that your parents could selfishly move to Georgia without you? Would you want everyone to know that no matter how good you were, it wasn’t enough for him or her and that they left you anyway? I don’t think it would matter to this girl that we all knew she was a straight A student. I don’t think it would matter to her if we knew she sat first chair in the band. But it would certainly move us.
The truth is some loving people were moved anyway, even though they did not know her name. Some attended a meeting to discuss how she could be helped without uprooting her senior year. Another person bought food for her to cook in a microwave. Another person took that food to her teacher. A teacher discreetly gave her a backpack of food. Do we need her name? Of course not. It is good to know that she graduated from the school she started in; a family took her in and helped her keep her job. And last we heard she is headed to college.
I’ll tell stories that have pictures but I will make their faces fuzzy. Pictures sell stories. You only have to pass through the check out lane of your local groceries store to know that this is true. Millions are spent every year getting the right picture to move the reader. So yes, Buses n’ Backpacks should have a picture. Boy would the money flow.
I could show a mom dying on the couch while hospice attends her; highlighting in the background a boy looking into his empty cupboard. It’s true, we have this story, it’s one of our own. The single mom had no family and just wanted to spend her last 6 months of life with the boy who was the only constant good thing in her life for the past 8 years. Hospice moved in and did what they do best.
But what does happen to a child like this during a long holiday such as Christmas, when no school is cooking for him? Hospice is not supposed to cook for the kid, care for him, or buy him Christmas presents. So, God put it on his neighbor’s heart to call Buses n’ Backpacks and a volunteer collected food that the boy could cook for himself. Another volunteer bought Christmas presents for him, and still another wrapped them and signed the mother’s name. Another wrote a letter to the mom, describing all the presents that were bought for her son on her behalf; things that she wished she could get, but her body would not cooperate. I could have taken a picture of their last Christmas together, but to me that is private and not up for display. So no picture today.
Why do our backpacks look like all of the other ones on campus? I’m sure you are catching on by now. Children are important to us at Buses n’ Backpacks. They are too important for us to take away their dignity, which gives them a little bit of hope of a better day. So listen to our stories, but know you will never hear a real name or see their precious faces. We plan on sticking with our less compelling Fake Names and Fuzzy Faces.
If you want to be a part of helping children through Buses N’ Backpacks, we invite you to enter our Run/Walk at Water Front Park this week. We have extended the discount codes for teams, so if you will be part of a team, or if you are bringing your own, please email me at Tandy@servingsouthlake.org and I will let you know your team’s code. For more information about this event, visit Active.com and enter “Buses n’ Backpacks” in the search box at the top.
For more information about Buses and Backpacks, and to find ways to get involved, please visit BusesnBackpacks.com