Backpack program helps Honduran students
Children in four Honduras neighborhoods have a soft spot in their hearts for a Bartlett-based company, Impact Logistics. Every year, the company provides backpacks, school uniforms, shoes and school supplies, as well as a half-day educational program, tutoring and a hot meal year-round, for about 450 children.
The program reaches children from kindergarten through sixth grade, and it supplements the country’s half-day school system.
“Most of those kids, their best meal of the day is going to come from us,” said Impact owner, David Hamilton. The rest of the time, the children and their families subsist on rice, beans, tortillas and other low-cost food.
The kids and their families also get free wellness checks and medical care while enrolled in the program. This is essential, Hamilton explained, because hospitals are under-equipped and healthcare is hard to obtain.
Honduras ministries also include two orphanages for rescued children, he said.
The program began after Hamilton and other adults accompanies students from his church on a mission trip to the Honduras in 1999. The poverty he found was a life-changing experience.
“My wife and I got down there, not realizing that we were basically going to have our hearts ripped out,” he said. “And we fell in love with the country, fell in love with the people, came back home and started going, ‘Okay, now I’ve got this successful business, and it’s time to do something positive with it besides just make money and provide jobs.’”
They partnered with a Honduras contact in 2000, and created a foundation, Point of Impact, in 2004. A companion foundation in the U.S. is Point of Impact Global Missions. Programs now reach children in the Honduras, Kenya and Tanzania.
The program also incorporates its graduates when possible. Older children return to volunteer, and one of the program’s teachers was a fifth- or sixth-grader when the program first started. Now she has a college degree and talks about what a difference Point of Impact made in her life.
“It furthered her education in a big way,” Hamilton said. “If a kid can get through the sixth grade in Honduras, they’re much more likely — 86 percent more likely — to graduate high school if they can just make it through the sixth grade. Because most kids don’t get past sixth grade. That’s when they start being able to work or being a little more helpful around the home, so their parents take them out of school.”
Impact’s employees liked Point of Impact so much that they wanted to contribute, so the backpack part of the program was born. Typically, the program provides backpacks in January for the children in Honduras, who have a school break from November until the start of a new school year in February. This year, they plan to provide an equal number of backpacks to needy children in the greater Memphis area as well.
Hamilton said he considers it a Christian duty to take care of the neediest people and has a goal is to spread Point of Impact globally.
“We have so much in our country,” he said. “We have so much to be thankful for. Even our poverty is not like the poverty around the world. Obviously, I get a good feeling, but it’s part of my belief system. It’s part of who I am, part of who we are as a family.”
His wife and adult daughters also have been heavily involved with the program and other charitable work for years, he said. “It’s more than just a feeling — it’s really just a way of life.”
A 1990 mission trip to Brazil broadened his view of the world and made him want to contribute more. He and his wife had their daughters, and then the 1999 Honduras trip was a tipping point.
“All that stuff just came back,” he said. “That’s when we said, ‘Okay, we’ve got to do something with impact. We’ve got to have a point of impact.”
How to help
Other people and businesses have taken up donations and supported the work.
People in the Mid-South can participate in the backpack program by donating $60 to help two children, Hamilton said. Donations will be accepted through Jan. 31. For details on the backpack program, go online to christmasbackpackprogram.org.
Monthly sponsorships are available for $30 per child in the Point of Impact program, too. For details on Point of Impact, go online to poihn.org.
For more information, call Keny Hatley, vice president for business development at Impact, at (901) 377-5298 or email him at email@example.com.
Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.