Fill a Backpack for a Nevada Legislator

By Sheila Freed

The December issue of The Lutheran magazine featured an article about Advent, and how much we miss if we plunge right into the busyness of Christmas right after Thanksgiving. But the thing that struck me most in the article was an illustration by the author, Gertrud Mueller Nelson. Now that we are in the season of Epiphany, the image seems particularly appropriate. It shows the Holy Family in modern dress. Baby Jesus is sitting in a shopping cart. The family is bundled up against the weather, and father, unshaven and with a backpack on his back, pushes the cart past urban high-rises. An angel flies overhead. This could represent the flight into Egypt. But I think there is more to it than that.

Jesus came for the poor, the homeless, the dispossessed of every age, and they are very much with us today. We who do Advocacy talk about the difference between Charity and Advocacy, and we recognize that both are important. Charity is about direct aid to those in need, and Advocacy is about making structural changes in society so the causes of need go away. 

Lutheran-Episcopal Ministry in Nevada (LEAN) will have an event on January 19, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, involving both charity and dvocacy. It’s the perfect time to learn about issues that will be on the agenda of the 2015 Nevada Legislature. Since public school funding is a major issue as always, LEAN will be doing Charity as well. It’s our way of telling legislators we’re concerned about schools and we want them to be, too. Your help is needed.

All new and returning state senators and assembly members have been invited. Those who attend will assemble backpacks filled with school supplies. The backpacks will be given to a low-income school of the legislator’s choice. We’re doing this in January, the middle of the school year, because many children and teachers have used all the supplies they started with in the fall, and there isn’t money to buy more. If you’re living out of a shopping cart, buying notebook paper isn’t likely to be your highest priority, but doing well in school is the way up and out. That is why we’re asking you to consider donating to this effort. Our Advocate, Rev. Mike Patterson, has arranged with Office Depot to buy supplies at a huge discount, so donations will go a long way. Donations can be sent to LEAN at the address above, or through your church office, marked “LEAN backpacks.”

If you prefer to donate items instead of cash, please use this list as a guide: Pencils, pencil bags, ballpoint pens, glue sticks, crayons, colored pencils, highlighters, 3-ring binders, spiral notebooks, erasers, pocket folders, sticky notes, copy paper, lined paper.

If there are questions about this project or about LEAN, please contact Rev. Mike Patterson (, or your Parish Communicators.

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