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Churches celebrate Christmas in July

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LEWISBURG, Ky. – Christmas in July is taking on a new emphasis as churches across Kentucky gather supplies and hold packing parties for the Christmas Backpack Project.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention, in partnership with Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union and the North American Mission Board, is encouraging churches to collect 5,000 new backpacks filled to the seams with toys, food and clothing. The age- and gender-specific backpacks are then to be turned into associational collection sites by Oct. 20.

Koneta “Konnie” Smith, project organizer at Elk Lick Baptist Church in Lewisburg, Ky., said she’s hoping the name of Jesus will become more than just a word for the children who receive backpacks this December.

“Our prayer is they will see God at work through the love and generosity of His people in the gifts received and that they can have hope,” said Smith.

Placed inside each backpack will be a copy of the “Christmas Story” and a postcard to register for the Mailbox Bible Club, which provides free Bible lessons from Appalachian Regional Ministries.

Mary Spaulding said her church has already committed to packing 100 backpacks for needy children.

“What we like about the project is that the backpacks go to our local Kentucky kids and to neighboring Cincinnati,” said Spaulding, Ladies Ministry Director at Bethesda Community Church in Independence, Ky.

The northern Kentucky Baptist church, a short distance from metropolitan Cincinnati, plans to purchase backpacks for members to fill. Spaulding said she was delighted to hear about one woman who, along with her 10 grandchildren, plans fill 10 backpacks.

To encourage widespread participation, Spaulding said, “We plan to use the KBC video to introduce the backpack project to the church and later we’ll have a packing party.”

Churches interested in participating in the Christmas Backpack Project can register at www.kybaptist.org/backpacks where they can find information about how to participate, what to pack, the locations of 29 collections sites across the state, and pledge the number of backpacks they intend to prepare.