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Bread of Life working to make Christmas bright

Dec. 02, 2012 @ 06:57 PM

SCOTT DEPOT — Kelli Frazier has a passion for helping people, especially children who are hungry or need the basics the rest of us take for granted. Lately, she has worked nonstop to ensure children not only have enough to eat, but will also find presents under their tree on Christmas morning.   

What makes her so passionate about it? Because she has been there. The Hurricane woman said she has had a heart for feeding people since she was 9 years old and living on welfare in California.

“The greatest blessing as a kid was when people reached out to us with toys and food during the holidays,” she said.  

Those memories remained with her and have instilled in her a strong commitment for helping others that has become a true ministry for her. Two years ago, she turned her passion into a reality as she became an associate pastor at the Davis Creek Church of the Nazarene, and in March, 2011 started their new food pantry called “Bread of Life” and its program for Christmas, “Bags of Blessings,” which works with United Way to provide Christmas gifts to children in need.    

“Bags of Blessings is our Christmas outreach program. It was started because hundreds of families missed the cutoff (date) for toy signups for Toys for Tots and Secret Santa,” she said.

On Saturday, Nov. 24, the ordained minister stood for eight hours outside of Kmart in Teays Valley asking customers to contribute to her Bags of Blessings ministry by purchasing either one item or all of the items on the wish list of one of the many children she still had on her Christmas list.

“We asked people to go in and buy a toy. Some actually adopted a child and supplied the whole Christmas wish list and some bought a toy or an article of clothing,” she said.

Frazier said although it is better to sign up in October if a family thinks they will need help during the Christmas season, many don’t think about it until after Thanksgiving, thus missing the cutoff date. This is where Bags of Blessings come in.

“United Way came to us last year with 150 names. This year we got 300 names. We doubled this year. There are still hundreds of children in the counties we serve (Kanawha, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan and Boone) who will not have Christmas this year,” she said.

Frazier, who says she will be working to fill those lists until Christmas Eve, said if people want help from Bags of Blessings, they must first sign up through United Way who will send them to her. To be eligible, the child must have a Medicaid card or receive SNAP benefits. All children are screened against a database to ensure eligibility and to determine if they are receiving gifts from more than one sponsor.

“We will continue to help provide toys to children in need as long as we have the ability to do so. Our goal is to ensure every child has a good Christmas,” she said.

The difficulty for Bags of Blessings is that while a lot of similar programs have corporate funding, they do not.

“Bags of Blessings relies solely on local businesses and residents to support this ministry,” she said.

Frazier’s foray into this compassionate ministry called Bread of Life began in a rather miraculous manner.

“It was on the heart of people at Davis Creek Church of the Nazarene in South Charleston to start a food pantry. God opened the door for me to come to the church as an associate pastor,” Frazier said. However, we are getting a little ahead of ourselves.

Frazier said she had known in her heart for some time that she was supposed to go to Davis Creek Church to work. Not long afterward, she attended a district event filled with Nazarene pastors including the one from Davis Creek.   

“I ran into the senior pastor at the Nazarene Christmas dinner. I asked him if he needed an assistant. ‘As a matter of fact, mine just resigned,’” he said to me.”  She met with the board who told her it was on their heart to start a food pantry.

“They wanted me to do that,” she said with amazement. “My heart is in compassionate ministries — feed them in the body and then feed them in the spirit,” she said.

Bread of Life was launched in March 2011 using the Gospel of John, Chapter 6: verse 35 as part of the logo. “And Jesus said unto them, ‘I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.’”

In May 2011, the Kanawha County Library donated its old bookmobile to Bread if Life, which gave the Church a mobile food pantry along with their already established permanent food pantry. The mobile unit is helpful during disasters and was used during flooding in Boone County. She also takes it to the Southmoor Hills Apartments in South Charleston on the first Saturday of the month, where she has a large concentration of families. Bread of Life feeds several hundred people a month, and so far this year, the need for food has not eased, it has only grown. She said in recent weeks, 38 new families have requested help.

She added that one of the biggest problems for people is they cannot come to the pantry during the hours it is open. Bread of Life changed its hours.

“We’re open from 6:30 to 8 p.m., every Wednesday at Davis Creek Church of the Nazarene and by appointment,” she said.

On Saturday, two days after Thanksgiving, however, the emphasis was on the children and getting their wish lists filled by Kmart customers. Finally, at 5 p.m., Frazier had gotten 50 children sponsored. They had met their goal.

“We had four shopping carts running over. I thought that was pretty good,” she said. Although she had planned to keep filling the orders until Christmas Eve, she is afraid she won’t be able to take orders after Dec. 1. Unfortunately, Bags of Blessings is running low on money and still has orders to fill. From Saturday to Tuesday, she had received 60 more names and they won’t end there. Without corporate sponsorship, she relies on big-hearted people and local businesses.

“As long as there are resources, we will continue to help,” she said.

If you would like to help a child at Christmas through Bags of Blessings, you can send donations to Bread of Life Ministries, 102 Nazarene Drive, South Charleston, West Virginia, 25309 or call 304-744-0863.

“We are a 501 ©3 corporation-all donations are tax deductible,” Frazier said.