Southeastern Jurisdiction stories of ministry with children in poverty: June 2015

June 25, 2015

In January 2015 the Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops and Annual Conference Lay Leaders met together in Charleston. A big part of their dialogue was advocacy for children in poverty. The agreed to make this a common focus of ministry across the Southeastern Jurisdiction. In follow up conversations, a plan developed to start an e-newsletter to regularly share stories of this common ministry focus. Below is the newsletter for June 2015.

If your congregation has a story of ministry with children in poverty, please send that story to North Alabama Conference Lay Leader Steve Lyles at


In January 2015 the Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops and Annual Conference Lay Leaders committed to make children in poverty a common ministry focus across the Southeast. This newsletter is a way to routinely share stories of this common ministry focus.


In this Issue:

  • North Georgia Conference - Action Ministries Announces Smart Lunch, Smart Kid Exceeds Goal for Third Straight Year

  • Memphis Conference - 'Operation Swaddling Clothes' at St. John's UMC supplies diapers to struggling families

  • Kentucky Conference - Community Program helps family with food, transportation and finances which results in changes lives


from the

North Georgia Conference


Action Ministries Announces Smart Lunch, Smart Kid Exceeds Goal for Third Straight Year

Program Exceeds Goal of Serving 200,000 Healthy Meals to Children
During Summer Months

Leaders of Action Ministries have announced that, thanks to widespread community support, the nonprofit’s Smart Lunch, Smart Kid program that had hoped to serve 200,000 healthy lunches to Georgia’s children was instead able to exceed its goal and serve 219,515 lunches this summer.
More than 2,000 volunteers donated 23,000 volunteer hours with a market value of $477,710 to the community to make and serve the lunches to an estimated 24,390 individual children across the state.
Designed to help the thousands of Georgia children who are at risk of hunger, the Smart Lunch, Smart Kid program was created to assist the more than 800,000 students in Georgia who receive a free or reduced-price lunch during the school year but do not have access to this important meal when the school year ends. Through its Smart Lunch, Smart Kid program, Action Ministries was able to coordinate the work of local volunteers and organizations and lead them in their successful efforts to provide children with healthy meals and educational enrichment opportunities.
“We have exceeded our goals each year of the Smart Lunch, Smart Kid program since its inception three years ago, and 2014 was the best year yet,” said John R. Moeller, Jr., president and CEO of Action Ministries.  “We were only able to serve that many lunches because our 200 partnering organizations and volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life chose to be Life-Changers for Georgia’s kids. Because of them and their generosity, we were able to erase hunger in Georgia this summer.”
“Thanks to Smart Lunch, Smart Kid, thousands of children who are now back in school had the healthy meals they needed to help their minds grow during the summer and start the school year off right,” continued Moeller.
“Smart Lunch, Smart Kid teaches us that everyone – whether the employee of a big corporation or a small community bank, a Girl Scout or Boy Scout, a teacher, a church youth group leader or a family honoring the servant’s heart of the daughter they lost – can have an impact on the children of Georgia,” said Mark Hellman, executive director of hunger relief programs for Action Ministries. “What happened in these cities can happen in any town in Georgia next year. We hope to raise the bar again in 2015, and we invite communities to join us and bring Smart Lunch, Smart Kid to their children in need.”
According to Action Ministries’ representatives, research shows proper nutrition in childhood plays an important role in a young person’s physical and mental growth. Significantly high percentages of children in Georgia are classified as food insecure, meaning they have limited or uncertain access to adequate food and are at risk of hunger.
Each weekday – from the first through the last day of summer vacation – Smart Lunch, Smart Kid volunteers fanned out through communities to distribute healthy lunches prepared by members of the community to children who receive free or reduced-price lunches during the regular school year.
Smart Lunch, Smart Kid 2014 statewide sponsors include Arby’s Foundation, Gas South, Sam’s Club, 11Alive WXIA, Walmart Foundation and WellCare of Georgia. Walmart and its associates supported the program through financial support, donations of time and essential food items pivotal to the initiative’s success.
For more information about the 2015 program, contact Mark Hellman of Action Ministries at or 770-905-9191 or Andrea Fowler, vice president for programs at or 404-824-3019. For the most up-to-date information, visit



from the

Memphis Conference


'Operation Swaddling Clothes' at St. John's UMC supplies diapers to struggling families



For low-income families, diapers can be a difficulty. A healthy infant can go through up to 12 diapers per day, according to the website of St. John’s UMC.
So, St. John’s, located in Memphis, Tenn., runs Operation Swaddling Clothes, an outreach providing families in need with diapers.
Jaime Winton, the church’s current lay leader, began the ministry several years ago after a woman came to the church food pantry asking for diapers. Winton realized that while government programs help struggling families buy food, they don’t help parents with all their needs.
The church’s website says low-income parents might not have enough money for more than one diaper per day and might be more likely to abuse a child who cries a lot because he or she is in need of a diaper change. Additionally, most licensed day care centers don’t accept cloth diapers and require parents to supply disposable ones. If a child can’t go to day care, their parents can’t work and poverty continues.
Winton knew this needed to change, so Operation Swaddling Clothes began. The ministry currently provides one-to-two- week’s worth of supplies to pre-screened families visiting the St. John’s UMC food pantry.
United Methodists and others may help Operation Swaddling clothes in the following ways:

  • Drop off any size or brand of diapers at St. John’s UMC.
  • Write checks to St. John’s UMC with “Diaper Drive” on the memo line.
  • Contribute unused gift cards to stores that carry diapers.
  • Host a donation drive or set up a drop-off location.

The church's location and mailing address is: St. John’s UMC, 1207 Peabody Ave., Memphis, TN 38104. 
For more information, visit



from the

Kentucky Conference


Community Program helps family with food, transportation and finances which results in changes lives


Through one of our community programs, we served a family of 3 in Frankfort, KY.  Our client, a 16 year old male, had been in a placement for 3-4 weeks past his discharge because the mother was so impoverished she was unable to pay for transportation to pick up the youth. Our client attended a day treatment program that did not provide transportation and they could not afford for him to take the public bus.  Because he had been unable to attend school, he had F’s in all of his classes. 

Since we began assisting his mother with transportation and money, he has attended school every day.  He even won student of the month award just a few months ago.  We helped provide food, transportation, and advocated for him to address his academic problems.  He had never gone out to eat at the age of 16. The school was planning to take the student to eat at a nice restaurant.  He was embarrassed because he didn’t know how to perform in this setting.  Our program took him out to eat for practice.

We discharged him from our program successfully. His Mother contacted us to ask our opinion about how to spend her tax return.  We suggested a vehicle. The family is doing a lot better and are very appreciative of the help they received.   



Annual Conferences of the
Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church

• Alabama/West Florida • Florida • Holston • Kentucky • Memphis •
• Mississippi • North Alabama • North Carolina • North Georgia • Red Bird Missionary •
• South Carolina • South Georgia • Tennessee • Virginia • Western North Carolina •

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