HAMLET — On a break from the the rigors of college, two young men have set their sights on giving others the tools to learn. And they have swept up the youth group of Second Baptist Church into helping.
Justus Ellerbe and Brett Bowers have started what they call Impact Backpack, a program that will gather school supplies and nonperishable food for neighboring families in need.
“In Richmond County, a lot of people are less fortunate,” Ellerbe said, explaining the impetus for the program. “It’s one thing we can do to make something (good) happen.”
Ellerbe has tasked his fraternity brothers at East Carolina University with collecting items, and the men have snared a $500 contribution from “Raiders Rocking for a Reason,” a charity activity at Richmond Senior High School shepherded by school counselor Christy Ransom. They also have received donations from the Second Baptist congregation.
With a bit of nurturing, publicity and fundraising, the men hope their stash will grow mightily. It’s already fairly impressive, Second Baptist youth pastor Drew Stables said Wednesday.
“It’s pretty much their idea, their formula,” Stables said of Impact Backpack. “The pastor (Chris Hawks) and I kind of helped tinker with it” by offering advice earned during other church charity drives.
“We try to meet weekly … to help them with logistics,” he said. “It was a pretty noble idea they had. It’s pretty cool.”
Ellerbe and Bowers, the latter of whom will begin studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in the fall, hope to plan to stage a three-on-three basketball tournament July 7, as well as a summer car wash or two, Stables said. Ellerbe also said he wanted to plant collection boxes around town.
The two also are working in the community this summer, Ellerbe as a lifeguard at the Dobbins Heights pool and Bowers, as an intern at Second Baptist.
They have selected three schools to assist because their students are church neighbors: Hamlet Middle School, and Monroe Avenue and Fairview Heights elementaries. But Ellerbe said he thought the program, if successful, could grow far beyond the Hamlet community.
“We just hope,” he said, “to collect donations and be a blessing to others.”
Those seeking more information on the project may check Justus Ellerbe’s or Brett Bowers’s Facebook page and search for “Impact Backpack Drive.”
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]