JACKSON, Tenn. – Nov. 22, 2004 – When 19 children from Youth Village gathered for their weekly meeting recently, they knew they were waiting for something. But they didn’t know what.
Talking with parents or foster parents and playing restlessly with the scattered balloons, the children, ages 8- 18, were about to be treated to a surprise by some students from Union University.
After a dinner of hot dogs, hamburgers and holiday-themed cookies, each child received a backpack filled with toiletries, school supplies and other goodies.
“We chose Youth Village because we were told that the young men and women were having to go from foster home to foster home using just a black garbage bag for their belongings,” said Union student Kris Phifer, co-chair for the event. “We’re trying to help them out a little. We hope to make a difference in their lives and maybe someday they can give back to the community.”
The backpacks were a gift from Union’s Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership program. The Nov. 15 event was part of the capstone class for the 10 students of Cohort 27. In the short five-week course the students planned and organized the charity event and called around to various businesses to solicit donations.
“Pretty much everything you see here is donated,” Phifer said. In addition to the room, food and supplies, every pack also contained a Bible, compliments of Woodville Baptist Church in Ripley. The students and their instructor, Guy DeLoach, paid for 29 backpacks out of their own pockets.
During DeLoach’s short speech he thanked the children for their courage, spirit of hope and potential, tossing in a few magic tricks to liven things up.
“Each of you is a unique miracle, a special gift,” DeLoach said.
Phifer said the program needs more foster parents.
“We want to encourage adults who can find it in their heart to foster a child in their home,” Phifer said. “This is not just a project. It is something all of us have been thankful to do for everyone.”
Amanda Herron ('05)