This past Sunday, Messiah member and UAH professor Rhonda Gaede stepped up to the pulpit with a Despicable Me Minions t-shirt and a goal to help students in need. In her Temple Talk, she described herself and everyone who has worked with her in the kit ministries as minions, much like the Minions in the Despicable Me movies. Unlike the little yellow assistants of evil, however, Rhonda and her team were the minions of a good cause.
Rhonda explained that the Kit Ministry Minions work to assemble supply kits for people in need. Volunteers gather in groups on Thursday nights to assemble donated supplies, but they also do a lot of behind-the-scenes work at home, such as making backpacks and washing baby clothes. Rhonda gave a special shout-out to the “Wallet Minions” who purchased items to include in the kits, saying that every contribution is valuable. Thanks to the generous donations by church members and the efforts of the kit assembly teams, Messiah will provide 400 personal care kits, 400 infant care kits, and 760 school supply kits for those who need them most.
Why become a minion for a cause like this? Rhonda cited the words of the not-so-evil Master Himself: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
While Rhonda described her team as minions for the Lord instead of the minions of some criminal mastermind, she did admit that she felt like an “evil genius” when she came up with a scheme to enlist the aid of UAH students. She organized an event called “Education for All” for UAH’s Week of Welcome, a week of activities intended to welcome new students into campus life. When UAH freshmen arrived at Room 258 of the Engineering Building, they found themselves working side by side with UAH faculty members and their families, as well as with members of Messiah Lutheran Church, to assemble school supply kits.
The many, many boxes of school supplies had crowded Messiah’s sanctuary earlier that morning as they received a blessing during the worship services. They seemed even more overwhelming as their contents exploded onto every flat surface in Room 258. The room positively overflowed with the generosity of Messiah’s members.
Working together in an assembly line that spilled out into the hallway, participants loaded school supplies into backpacks, many of which were handmade. Each backpack contained pencils, pens, a pencil sharpener, scissors, crayons, an eraser, a ruler, and four spiral notebooks. Volunteers packed the backpacks into boxes that were sealed and weighed so that they can be shipped to Lutheran World Relief. LWR will distribute the supplies to where they are needed most in locations around the world.
The event was scheduled to last from 4:00 to 6:00 that evening, but many volunteers stayed past 6:30 to get just a few more bags packed up. New students made new friends while residents of the Huntsville area connected with the UAH community. Volunteers received t-shirts and indulged in delicious ice cream sundaes at the end of the evening. It was great fun for the participants, and the packaged school supplies will enrich the lives of students in need. The “evil” scheme was a success.