Archive for the ‘Genesis’ Category

2015 Christmas Baskets

Genesis Collage

Christmas is truly a wonderful time.  It is also a very, very busy time!  The same week that we had the Heartland Christian School program, we also had the Genesis Christmas baskets.  This is a great project that has changed and grown each year.  It has become quite a community event, and I am glad that I have been a part of it.

This year was a pretty big year for the baskets.  I don’t know if it was the biggest year in the history of Genesis or not, but if not, it certainly came close.  It is always amazing to me see how people come out to help with every part of this project–from moving food, to wrapping gifts, to filling boxes, to distributing the boxes.  We have a very giving community, and that is proven every year during this project.

I have enjoyed my time as a member of the Thomas County Genesis board.  I had never done anything even sort of like this before I joined the board, and working on the board opened my eyes to needs around me, and for that I am grateful.  My term will be finished in February 2016, and I will miss it.

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Boxes  Collage

The first couple of weeks of December were ridiculously busy at the Prairie Family house!  In addition to the program at the library and the Heartland Christian School Christmas program, the annual Genesis Christmas Basket project landed at exactly the same time!  So, we were pretty much running our heads off–but we had lots of fun!

I will always remember the 2014 Genesis Christmas basket project as the year of abundance–overflowing abundance in more than one way!  It was my job to make sure that we had enough volunteers to complete each phase of distributing these food packages to the needy families in our community.  Even one week out from the beginning of the project, I just wasn’t sure how it was going to come together.  I did know one thing:  it would be all right.  God definitely takes care of Genesis year-around, and I knew He’d continue to do so.  Despite this, however, I just didn’t have the groups responding to help like they had in years past.  That all changed the Monday before the boxes were filled on Friday!  That day I had sports teams, businesses, churches, etc. all call saying they were coming to help–and come they did!  We had so much help moving the food to our filling location that we were finished in record time!  We had so many volunteers assembling and distributing boxes that we actually had to invent things for them all to do!  So, when God brought the needed help, He brought even more than we needed!

The other way that God provided overflowing abundance had to do with meat.  Several weeks before the filling of the boxes, Genesis received unbelievable donations of meat.  So much meat, in fact, that all of the food bank’s freezers were over-flowing!  We had so much meat that several board members had to store extras until space could be found to move it all.  It was really quite a strange problem to have!  As the baskets approached, we decided that distributing the extra meat to the families getting the baskets would be a good way to thin down our supply.  So that’s what we did!  We started handing out meat, and handing out meat, and handing out meat!  I got on the phone and had the meat that was stored around town brought in, and we just kept handing it out!  At one point, one of my kids asked, “Where is all of this meat coming from?”  I asked them if they remembered the Bible story of the lad with the loaves and fish that Jesus used to feed the multitude, and then I said, “Just watch!  I bet that we will have just enough to take care of all of these people–not too much, not too little.”  And that’s what happened!  As the last person left with their portion of meat, there was just enough meat left in the freezers at the food bank to open for the next regular distribution day.  Wow, isn’t God good?!  He had been preparing that supply through those donations well in advance to take care of the needs in our community.  It was truly amazing to be part of that process!

Yes, 2014 Christmas baskets will always be remembered as a time of seeing God’s powerful hand supplying abundantly.  I love being part of Genesis because I get the privilege of seeing His awesome power and gracious care meeting needs every day, all year around.  Blessed–truly blessed!



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Genesis Collage

I am just finishing my second year on the board for our county’s food bank.  It is truly a blessing for our family to be involved with this great organization.  We have met amazing people and have learned a lot about love.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

The food bank operates year-around and has several special projects.  Our biggest project, by far, is the annual Christmas basket distribution.  We plan and work on it for months, so it is a rewarding day when those baskets go out the door to families.  This year the board decided to break the project up into committees, and I think dividing it up helped ease the load on everyone–and helped us all to understand and appreciate the processes involved.  I was a little hesitant when I found out I was on the volunteer/contacts committee.  I am not one who likes to make phone calls and ask people to do something, but since this was the task given me, I decided to do my very best.  I was in for a wonderful surprise!  Finding volunteers was probably the easiest part of this project!  I had a calling list of people who had helped in the past, and, believe it or not, of those who were still in the area, I had 100% willingness to help again!  Isn’t that incredible?!  Not one person said no!  And that’s how the whole project went:  everytime I needed people to help with this or that, everyone was eager and willing to jump right in!  What a blessing–I couldn’t believe it!  I had never experienced anything like that!

I can’t begin to express how happy I was when the community volunteers came and served with such joy.  It was a moving experience–something I will treasure for the rest of my life. And it didn’t end there!  Many members of the community lined up to help fill those boxes.  They gave time in a busy, busy season to help others, and it was wonderful.

We were blessed to be able to give out around 200 boxes this year–we have such a giving community.  Everything–the food, the money, and the work–is all donated.  It was very cool to see families walking out the door with toys, bikes, and food for their families for Christmas.  It was definitely a precious highlight of my holiday season.

One of the greatest parts of being involved with the Genesis food bank is being able to get to know and work with the other board members.  Those people are amazing–truly amazing.  They give, and give, and give.  And not just at Christmas, but all year around.  They volunteer to work several times a week, and yet they do it happily, willingly, and with true servant hearts.  In many ways, they are like family to me, and I love them all.  They have each taught me so much about the joy of serving others, and I owe them so much.

So, I thank God for Thomas County Genesis, and praise Him for how He so greatly blesses the work there.  He is good–all of the time–and my life is so rich!

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Luke Map Collage

Yes, we are still here! LOL!  I have written before that once we get into the routine of school, sometimes my blogging suffers.  It’s not that we aren’t doing anything; it’s just that we’re doing regular school stuff–not much that is blog-worthy!  🙂

So, school is plodding along, and we’re hitting it hard and heavy.  We just finished up our first quarter, and that means that we are heading into a busy, busy project season.  John and Brock are in the beginning stages of their science projects, and Cosette is in 7th grade, which is the year that the students plan a science project but don’t actually do the full display.  John is planning to do a complicated chemistry-type project involving clock and oscillating reactions and how the different variables affect the rates of reaction.  (I know, sounds rather confusing….)  Brock’s project has to do with the stability of towers on inclines, and Cosette is studying bilge keels and plans to test how different conditions affect their performance.  Pretty soon the planning stages will be over, and it will be time to carry out the experiments, analyze the results, and assemble those wonderful science project display boards.  Fun……  Sigh……..

Speaking of displays, Luke finished his 6th grade A Beka Academy geography project today!  Yea!!  This is always an interesting project.  It involves drawing a poster-sized map of a country that shows major geographical features, cities, natural resources, etc.  Fortunately, we have learned a few tricks over the years to make this go as smoothly as possible, and I think Luke’s map of Syria came out great!  He chose Syria when it was constantly in the news with its civil war a few weeks ago.  It was a good choice–we really didn’t know much about that country, and it gave us a chance to get an introduction to it.  It looks like a very interesting place!

John is enjoying the fact that he is a junior and that in a couple of years he will get the opportunity to pursue new things in new places.  He has been investigating colleges and thinking about majors.  Right now he seems most focused on math, science, and music, but he goes back and forth on specific areas.  And that’s ok at this point!  God will lead him along the way at the right time.  John has done a lot of good internet searching about different colleges and has learned a lot.  He has signed up for a couple of college-visitation days in a few weeks, and I know that God will use all of this to guide him to just the right place.

The girls have a couple of new activities this fall that they are really enjoying.  First of all, they are taking sewing lessons!  There is a lady in our church who designs patterns.  Her shop is called Lilac Lane.  She graciously offered to help the girls learn to sew, and the girls have been having a ball going to her house each week to work on their projects.  Currently they are making tote bags.  I have heard rumors that their next project will be a small quilt that will give them lots of practice sewing nice, straight lines.  So, this has been a wonderful thing for my girls–they have a good role model to look up to and admire in this sweet lady!  🙂 The girls and I have also been going to Stampin’ Up classes this fall.  A friend of mine recently became a demonstrator, so we have been going to her sessions to learn more about stamping/card making.  The girls really enjoy this and are good at it.  I’m not very good at it–but that’s ok too!

Of course, I am still keeping busy at the food bank.  We have had some food drives, and just the regular meetings, stocking the shelves, etc. keeps my calendar from being boring.  We are in full swing in preparing for the annual Christmas basket project.  Last year we gave out around 200 baskets, and it looks like we are on track for that many again this year.  Our food bank is trying to reorganize the project this year by dividing the responsibilities into committees, and hopefully that will go smoothly and not lay so much on one single person.  I am on the “contacts/volunteer” committee, which means I am responsible for lining up the volunteers for the assembling of the baskets and helping to coordinate the different organizations that participate in this project.  That will be a big job during November and early December, but it really is enjoyable and rewarding.

So, things are continuing on.  We are definitely in the “daily life” mode, but that’s a good mode to be in!

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Last week we helped our local food bank purchase, sort, and assemble Summer Food for Kids bags.  These bags contain child-friendly food items like fruit cups, granola bars, crackers, etc.  This year was our second year of helping with this project, but it was our first year in the behind-the-scenes preparations for assembling the bags.  Many of the items were donated by the community, but a large percentage of the contents are purchased by the food bank, so we got to participate in purchasing these items, and that was quite an experience!  You can imagine the strange looks we got as 5-6 volunteers walked through the aisles of the local stores filling shopping cart after shopping cart with ALL of the breakfast bars on the shelf, followed by around 200 packages of pudding snacks, followed by……..!  Yes, people thought we were pretty strange!  Then we took all of the carts to the checkouts, and, boy, did we get more questioning looks!  🙂  Fortunately, we had a very patient and cheerful cashier who did a great job helping us process all of those purchases!  I really wish I had taken my camera to the store–it was really a unique photo opportunity.  Later this summer, though, we will probably need to purchase more items because we anticipate that the 150 bags that we prepared will last around half of the summer.  Next time I will be sure to get pictures of the shopping trip.

After we bought the items and sorted the donations, we opened up all of the packages and set everything out so the bags could be easily filled.  We had the board members and their families help fill the bags, and, believe it or not, that job was finished in about half an hour!  Whew–they were an efficient food-for-kids packing machine!

This year the food bank is blessed to not only be able to provide the bags, but we were able to purchase supplemental boxes containing additional child-friendly items for a very low cost.  Those will also be distributed to needy families in our community.

I cannot tell you how much fun it is to work on projects like this.  The kids all agree, and participate with enthusiasm and lots of smiles!

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Genesis Collage

The past few weeks have been very busy at the food bank that we help with.  Goodness gracious, there has been food drives, lots of donations, lots of sorting, etc., etc., etc.!  This organization has really reached a turning point in its history.  It seems like this pantry gets bigger and bigger–we have such a generous community and the needs are always there.  So, we never run out of things to do!

This summer this food bank is going to again provide Summer Food for Kids bags.  These bags provide families with children extra child-friendly items during the summer months when school lunch programs are not being offered.  This week we will fill the first round of bags, and there will probably be at least one more time of filling before the summer is over.

I am so happy that my kids enjoy helping with the food bank.  I really like it too–I have developed several very special friendships through this organization, and it is just a satisfying way to help others in the community.

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God gave me many special blessings in 2012, but there are two that really stand out that have been unexpected, life-changing gifts:  the opportunity to learn to play the cello, and being a member of the Thomas County Genesis Board.  I had no idea what a joy it would be to belong to Thomas County Genesis–in fact, I really didn’t know very much about what this wonderful organization does when I came onto the board.  Now that I have been a part for almost a whole-year cycle, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

The purpose of Genesis-Thomas County, Inc. is to offer food assistance to Thomas County residents.  This is accomplished by providing monthly food packages to qualifying clients from the Food Bank, and by special projects such as the Summer Food for Kids Program and the annual Christmas Food Basket Project.  The board members participate in monthly administrative meetings, but this board is also considered a “working” board in that each board member signs up for months during which they help stock the food bank. We are also active in food drives and the special projects, so it is a great opportunity for service.

The Christmas Basket project is a huge undertaking!  I began hearing about all that was involved back when I joined the board in February, but as the year progressed, I gradually learned more and more about all of the work that had to be done to bring these food boxes together! There were tons of mailings, contacts, orders, labelling, etc., not to mention the physical processes of moving, sorting, and processing the food.  I had complete confidence, however, that even though the steps were many and seemed complicated, that in the end it would be well-organized and well-executed like every other Genesis activity I have been involved with.

I was right:  the whole event went together like a well-oiled machine!  By the time the community was invited to come help fill the boxes with all of the wonderful food items, all of the boxes were clearly identified by code numbers, the foods and various quantities were clearly shown, and the cart system was all prepared.  With all of the great planning and community involvement, we had baskets prepared for nearly 200 families in just a few hours!  The boxes included special holiday items, but the main focus was on nutritious, regular staples that could help people feed their families during this busy time of year. They included peanut butter, green beans, corn, peas, tomatoes, pork and beans, canned fruit, spaghetti sauce, soup, tuna, Hamburger Helper mixes, brownie mixes, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, oatmeal, spaghetti noodles, pudding, fruit, bread, ham, hamburger, and potatoes.

In addition to the wonderful food boxes, people could apply to get additional holiday items for their kids.  The Kiwanis group held a toy drive to provide new, wrapped gifts; the local fire department worked with a correctional facility to refurbish bicycles.  It was really unbelievable, and also humbling to be part of such a great project.

There were many organizations that assisted in a myriad of ways with this project, but one group really stood out:  the Colby Community College Baseball Team.  Those great guys came in shifts to help with everything from filling boxes, lifting heavy items, carrying packages out to cars, to helping clean up. They were there from the beginning to the end, and they were polite, happy volunteers.  The Prairie Family is now their greatest fan club, and we are looking forward to enjoying some of their games in the spring!

Genesis has been a blessing not only to me, but also to my whole family.  All of them have helped from time-to-time, and they have also discovered the joy that comes from hard work.  Cosette and John are especially enthusiastic–whenever there is an opportunity to help out with a project or at the Food Bank, they are there.  In fact, they regularly ask me when the next time will be!

So, God has greatly enriched my life through Thomas County Genesis.  It has been a true blessing serving on this board and getting to know the special people who have given many, many years to this organization.  Every single board member is a dear friend, and I will greatly miss those who are unable to continue in the coming year.  That being said, I look forward to getting to know the new people who will be joining us soon!  Yes, I am a “newbie,” but, Lord willing, I hope to be able to continue working with this fabulous group for many years to come!

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