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Appalachian Christmas Outreach

Because of the generous spirit of North Carolina churches, 21,142 backpacks were collected in 2023! Praise the Lord! This is the most ever collected! This ministry continues to grow, and make an eternal impact in so many lives! We would love for you and your church to be a part of this meaningful ministry in 2024, when our goal will be 22,000 backpacks. UPDATED INFORMATION FOR ACO 2024 IS NOW POSTED BELOW. Won't you and your church help us reach the statewide goal in 2024?

The Appalachian Coalfields Ministry, sponsored by Baptists on Mission, seeks to meet physical and spiritual needs of people living in the Appalachian Area. Working with scores of ministry centers and small churches in five Appalachian states, we help mobilize volunteers and resources to meet needs. One of the greatest ministry needs in this area occurs around Christmastime. BOM is calling on churches statewide to respond to this need through Appalachian Christmas Outreach 2024. Our goal is to collect 22,000 backpacks of items to be distributed to Appalachian children in areas of need in late November and December 2024. Statewide collection date will be Saturday, November 2. Collection areas will be set up across the state for churches to bring their backpacks.

How Have We Seen God Work Through the Appalachian Christmas Outreach?
Click here to see some reports from the mission field. 
Click here to see responses from some of the children who have recieved backpacks.
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Ways In Which You and Your Church Can Be Involved:

1) COLLECT ITEMS AND PREPARE BACKPACKS to be taken to a regional collection center on Saturday, November 2 (collection sites will be listed below in September). We encourage churches to begin collecting and filling the packs early – and throughout the year, as certain items such as warm clothing, go on sale. Each zippered school backpack should include:
A) Items of NEW warm clothing.  Please try to provide a winter hat, a pair of gloves, 2-3 pair of winter socks, and maybe a scarf.
B) Small pop-top canned food items such as ravioli, tuna, beef stew, vegetables, fruit (3-4 cans - no plastic containers, please) 
C) At least 1 or 2 NEW, age appropriate non-breakable toy(s) (no toy weapons, please!) This can include small cars, balls, dolls, small stuffed animals, puzzles, jump rope, sidewalk chalk, card games, Legos, etc. For oldest age group (15-17) substitute an appropriate item instead of a toy, such as, a flashlight, small thermos, light blanket, earbuds, small tool kits, fishing gear, books, hunting, fishing or sports magazines for the boys - jewelry, books, earbuds, skin care products, hair accessories, small travel-sized hair dryer, etc. for girls.
D) Hygiene items including full sized containers of toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, and deoderant, as well as toothbrush, soap, washcloth, brush or comb.  (Please fit these items into a one gallon Ziploc bag so they do not leak out into the rest of the backpack).
E) Fresh, wrapped candy (no chocolate please, as it may melt; and no peanut products because of potential allergies)
F) A children’s Bible or youth Bible (no one version is required) Please make sure that every backpack has a regular sized (not Gideon sized, please) Bible in it! This is the most important item!
G) A copy of "The Christmas Story" **
**We ask that you enclose a copy of the Christmas story in each bag. You can download and print a .pdf copy of it here from our website (see link above). Printing Tip: If the second page prints out upsidedown, choose "short edge - top"  binding option under your printing preferences. You may have to click "Print using system dialog" to get to your advanced preferences.  Packing hint: The Bible and Christmas Story flyer seem to fit best in the front pocket of many backpacks (maybe not all.)

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please make sure all items fit into the backpack. Nothing should be attached to the outside of the pack except the ribbons identifying age and boy/girl. Items outside of the backpack do not store and travel well. Many are either torn off or become quite dirty in transport. Also, please do not tape the outside of the backpacks as it leaves a sticky residue. 
Age Grouping and Labeling. Each backpack should be labeled boy or girl as well as the appropriate age. Age groupings for this year are 4-7, 8-10, 11-14, 15-17. Due to labels falling off in previous years, we have now gone to a ribbon system for labeling, and it has proven to be very effective. Each backpack will have two 10 inch ribbons tied to them - one to indicate gender and one for age, as follows:
                            Blue ribbon will indicate a boy’s backpack.
                            Pink ribbon will indicate a girl’s backpack.

                           Yellow ribbon will indicate that the backpack is for ages 4-7
                           Green ribbon for ages 8-10
                           Red ribbon for ages 11-14
                           White ribbon for ages 15-17. 

We ask that you prepare your backpack as you would for your own child or grandchild, with new items, not used ones. This quality gift could be the only Christmas present this child receives, and will be a witness of Christ’s love!
Websites for: School Backpacks Bibles            Toys/Games Other
Dollar Days All Dollar Days Eros Wholesale
Bacpacks, USA Church Source   Blowout Medical (for combs/brushes)
Wholesale Stock Room              Ollies Empire Discount  
Bags in Bulk Family Christian Mattel Charity Sales  
Search "Discount Backpacks" Bibles in Bulk    
  Bibles at Cost    
2) BE A COLLECTION SITE FOR YOUR AREA for the Christmas backpacks. We need churches and/or associational offices who can have volunteers ready to meet and assist those who might bring backpacks by on Saturday, November 2 between the hours of 9 am and noon, and who can provide either an enclosed trailer, box truck. or building space for the backpacks to be stored. The collection site will then be responsible for transporting backpacks collected to either Shelby  Mission Camp or Red Springs Mission Camp (near Lumberton) on Friday, November 10 for processing, which will take place the next day, Saturday, November 11.

3) PARTNER WITH AN APPALACHIAN MINISTRY and/or 4) DELIVER BACKPACKS TO A MINISTRY SITE. Some ministry sites in the Appalachian region have requested NC churches to come conduct a Christmas outreach event in conjunction with the distribution of the backpacks. These events may include preparation of food, additional needs distibution, games for the children, a gospel presentation, etc . Your church would deliver and distribute filled backpacks to the ministry site at the event and participate in ministry activities, which will be planned according to the desires and direction of the ministry center/church. We will also need some churches to simply deliver backpacks to needed areas. Teams wishing to participate in either an event or delivery must register through Baptists on Mission’s Appalachian Coalfields Partnership. Instructions will be sent to the team leader. Note that partnering opportunities are limited to about 35 per year. Several of these will be filled by "return partners" from the previous year. If you wish to partner, fill out this form  and return it asap. Requests will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. If all partnering opporunities are filled, we will have a waiting list - AND, again, we can always use "delivery only" partners each year.

ACO ASSOCIATIONAL SPOKESPERSONS - Several have agreed to be Appalachian Christmas Outreach representatives for their association in 2024. They are available to give advice, support, and to possibly come speak to you and your church about how to be involved in this ministry effort. Please contact them directly if you would like their assistance. If your association is not listed, feel free to contact the representative closest to you. Click here to see a list of ACO Associaional Representatives.

Please plan to bring your backpacks to one of our 30+ locations on Saturday, November 2 between the hours of 9:00 am and noonThe contact number is provided only if you need to contact someone while en route to deliver your backpacks. If you have questions prior to collection, please contact Mark Abernathy at 919-459-5607 or at Additional sites may be added, so you may want to check back just before transporting. 

The List of Collection Sites will be Added in September (Please Check Back Then)

  Appalachian Christmas Outreach Opportunities  
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