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Barbara Wersten

How did you feel when you first understood the assignment?

We were excited for the opportunity to take action and be able to bless someone with this gift.

How did you decide how/where you’d use the money?

We had some initial thoughts where the money should go, but knew we needed to seek God’s wisdom before we did anything. Two ideas kept coming to me. One was to help a friend of mine who is a missionary in Belize. She and her Belizean husband live in a village where they have taken over a church as pastor and wife. Their church is struggling financially. However, I kept having this tugging at my heart for the children in Saratoga. I knew God was speaking to me. You see, I am a teacher in the Saratoga Springs City School district and I see kids come to school hungry daily. Many people do not even realize the number of kids right here in Saratoga Springs who come to school daily without having had a meal since lunch the previous day at school. These kids are held to the same standards and expectations as their peers who get 3 warm meals plus snacks every day. They try so hard, but their little bellies are hungry and their brains are tired from lack of nutrition. A couple of years ago, the SNACpack program was formed by one of my colleagues. The SNACPack Program (Saratoga Nutrition Assistance for Children) is designed to meet the needs of hungry children on weekends, when other resources are not available to them. The program provides backpacks filled with food that is child-friendly, shelf-stable, and easily-consumed. Bags are packed each week by volunteers and discreetly distributed to participating children every Friday afternoon. All 6 elementary schools, the middle and high schools are all working together to help our children who are considered chronically hungry. Each bag includes… • 2 breakfast items ( box of cereal, oatmeal packets, graham crackers, granola bars) • 3 entrées (mac & cheese, PB & J, canned pastas, tuna, soup, etc.) • A loaf of bread • Shelf-stable milk or milk card • 2-3 juice boxes (100% juice when possible) • Fresh fruits •2 Canned vegetables • Snacks including protein bars, granola bars, pudding, cookies

How did you use the money?

So, after much prayer we decided that we would give half of the money to the SNACpack program and half to the church in Belize. When I told the woman in charge of the SNACpack program about the sermon and the assignment and that we felt that God was telling us to bless the SNACpack program, she just wept. She told me that they have literally run out of any monies that had been donated and are relying purely on food donations that they get from families. She also said that they didn’t know how they were going to fill the food bags next month. She said that this money would buy 50 loaves of bread and that 50 families would be able to make sandwiches for the week for their families. When I came home and told my husband about my conversation at school with the SNACpack coordinator. And we decided right then that she should get the whole $100 and we would match it to give the church in Belize another $100. When I told my friend from Belize, she was blown away! She said her initial thoughts of where the money could go would be to get tables and chairs for the preteen class in order for them to be able to sit during church. Another need she said this would help is for a widow who can’t afford to purchase a clean barrel of water (around $20) that would provide water for washing, cooking, and bathing. We are so grateful that God chose us to bless others. Thank you Grace Fellowship.