Mission of Hope teams with Daily Press Sunday
ESCANABA — This year, Mission of Hope is partnering with the Daily Press to bring hope and support to community members in need. The Mission of Hope/Daily Press Back-to-School event will take place Sunday, Aug. 8 at Ludington Park from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The event marks changes for both Mission of Hope and the Daily Press. Past Mission of Hope events have historically taken place at the U.P. State Fairgrounds, and the Daily Press has opted to support Mission of Hope instead of holding its own Children’s Back-to-School and Health Fair — a move the Daily Press believes will produce a greater impact on the community than could be made by the groups separately.
“Basically, Mission of Hope is a community-wide event put on by a bunch of churches and businesses and individuals just to serve and love our community,” said Paul Culbertson, director of Mission of Hope Delta County and lead pastor at Wellspring Community Church, who noted Mission of Hope was now in its third year.
During the event, families will be given brand new school shoes, new school supplies, backpacks, toiletry items, groceries, and — for those that need them — diapers. There will also be back-to-school haircuts and the opportunity for families to sit for a family portrait. Printed photos will be given to families who have their portraits taken at the event.
“Everything we do that day is 100 percent free. There’s no cost to anything,” said Culbertson.
Over the past two years, more than 400 volunteers from over 20 different area churches, businesses and individuals have supplied more than 1,500 kids with new shoes, given out 1,900 backpacks stocked with school supplies, provided 194 haircuts, 2,000 packages of diapers, 400 home health kits, over 20,000 pounds of groceries and thousands of hygiene items. But the mission of Mission of Hope started out on a much smaller scale.
“A few years ago I had heard from a friend of mine just about a project that a senior in high school did many years ago in Wisconsin. She just wanted to change her community, and I think they just did pretty much groceries for everybody,” said Culbertson, who expressed Mission of Hope had taken the essence of the girl’s dream to impact her community and expanded on it to create the annual event in Delta County.
“We have a huge need and we have a great community that likes to support and encourage and one thing led to another and next thing I know, God was blessing and a lot of things came through,” he said.
One-hundred percent of the funds raised for Mission of Hope are used for the annual event, and anything left over is used for smaller projects throughout the year. All of the people involved with the event are volunteers and no one is paid for their services.
The community’s response has been positive as well.
“They’re grateful and thankful. Most every person is just super nice and kind, and they know what we’re doing. We try to help as many people as we can. We run out of items sometimes, but we do our best,” said Culbertson.
For Culbertson, who grew up experiencing poverty in inner-city Detroit, the impact is something he can relate to personally.
“I will never forget churches who came along … and helped my family have Christmas or that brought me a new pair of shoes out of the blue when I wasn’t expecting it, and that’s just always laid heavy on me, and I wanted to figure out how can we do this because I think a lot of people would help if they knew how to help and if they knew that the items that were given away that day were going to people that really needed them,” he said.
More than 40 businesses have partnered with Mission of Hope and the Daily Press for the event. Culbertson thanked those businesses and individuals who are volunteering at or have donated to the event for their support.
“This event is put on to show this community how much they are loved. You know, from a church standpoint, Mission of Hope has the heart of churches and kind of our goal is to love people so loud that they want to find out where that love comes from, and ultimately, that love comes from Jesus,” he said.
Immediately following the Mission of Hope/Daily Press Back-to-School event, an additional event will take place at Ludington Park. UP City Fest, featuring a motocross stunt show by Zero Gravity Outreach and a music performance by Unspoken, will take place in the park, beginning at 5 p.m. UP City Fest is also a free event, though vendors will be on hand at the park as well.
For more information about Mission of Hope or to get involved visit www.missionofhope906.com or find “Mission of Hope Delta County” on Facebook. More information about UP City Fest can be found at https://lifelight.org/upcityfest.