For nearly 10 years, spring meant a trip to the Kentucky coalfields for a group of Anderson University women.
Theirs is a singular purpose: supporting mothers in need.
In 2010, Becky Walker, the associate campus minister for women at Anderson University, led the first trip. Since then, Walker and a group of AU staff and students have raised about $20,000 in support of God’s Love From a Diaper Bag ministry in Jenkins, Kentucky.
Walker said the annual mission trip helps AU students grow in their faith.
“God transforms people on this trip,” she said.
It’s among the reasons missing is so difficult. As with most things, the Coronavirus pandemic halted this year’s trip. April would have marked the 10th year the AU group visited God’s Love From a Diaper Bag.
Each month, the organization gives away about 9,000 diapers and other necessities for babies in Letcher and surrounding Kentucky counties. Bessie McPeek, the founder of the 20-year-old ministry, said it serves about 500 women each month.
Amber Hathaway, a senior communications student at Anderson, participated in the mission trip in 2018. She said the experience transformed her.
“I was adopted, so being able to speak to young, struggling mothers was really humbling to me,” Hathaway said. “There are people there who are so thirsty for the Word that are just a bus ride away. It has changed the way I look at the world around me.”
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On the roughly four-hour drive back to campus, the AU missionaries bond over all they’ve experienced, Walker said.
“It entwines our hearts together,” she said. “They talk about their brokenness. We tend to cry.”
In March, Walker canceled the annual mission trip to Jenkins to adhere to social distancing recommendations designed to stem the spread of COVID-19. Walker said she apologized to McPeek and asked what the ministry needed. McPeek said the ministry needed diapers for older babies.
Anderson University Associate Director of Marketing Shelli Rutland, who has driven one of the mission-trip vans to Jenkins for six years, designed an advertisement for social media asking the public to buy diapers and send them to the God’s Love From a Diaper Bag ministry in Jenkins.
“(AU women) encouraged churches and individuals to send diapers and wipes to fulfil the need to the mothers and babies during this time,” McPeek said. She received 5,000 diapers days after Rutland posted the ad.
The ministry practices social distancing when distributing donated diapers and baby necessities: it has a drive-through site where women call McPeek and later pick up sanitized packages that have been left outside the door for them.
In addition to leading a diaper drive, AU volunteers “pray for us all the time, and that is crucial to our ministry, McPeek said.
To buy diapers for God’s Love From a Diaper Bag, visit Walmart.com and have them shipped to Bessie McPeek, 350 Cs-1003, Whitesburg, KY 41858. Or, you can order diapers from Amazon.com, and have them shipped to Bessie McPeek, 9757 Hwy. 805 Main Street, Jenkins, KY 41537.