It was former President John F. Kennedy who once said, “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.”
It’s a philosophical statement outlining the essential truth that our children are our future and that future depends on the quality of the children we raise. If Monday’s special MLK Day of Service event at Painting with a Twist is any indication, Manatee County is blessed.
About 30 children from an array of backgrounds, including homeless, foster kids, faith-based families and Girl Scouts were honored on Monday for their commitment to community. The children were recognized for a variety of things from street ministry, to homeless feeds, to those who willingly share their space and toys with incoming foster children.
Betsy Plante, co-founder the Blessing Bag Project, which devotes itself to providing the basic and critical needs to the homeless, said each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the children are taught about the importance of service to community.
“But this year we wanted to do something different,” Plante said. “We have so many children who come and volunteer with us. They make blessing bags, bring us items or help bag, so we decided to honor those kids today.”
The children gathered at Painting with a Twist on Manatee Avenue West and were recognized for the various ways they contribute and then it was all about the fun as they sat at their easels and began to create in the fun atmosphere provided by the staff at Painting with a Twist.
Plante paid special tribute to a local Girl Scout troop that helps feed the homeless at Hungers End the first Monday every month, as well as the others.
“Those Girl Scouts come every month and work really, really hard,” she said. “We have another couple of little girls that have shared their hearts and homes with kids who are less fortunate and we have four boys that do street ministry with us. So we thought we’d honor them today.”
The Blessing Bag Project does much more than ensuring the area homeless have some essentials and are fed. They hold several events throughout the year with many of those events focused on local disadvantaged children. To learn more, volunteer, or help in other ways, visit theblessingbagsproject.org or call 941-720-1720.
As volunteer Maryann Gauvin noted, it’s an on-hands kind of experience where you get to see the difference you make.
“By volunteering for the Blessing Bag Project, I have seen first hand how we have changed lives in our community,” she said.