SHARING THE BLESSINGS: St. Alban’s to bless backpacks, help others with uniforms

Published 4:00 am Sunday, July 16, 2023

Children and teachers attending St. Alban’s Episcopal Church will participate in what has become a school year tradition. The blessing of the backpacks is scheduled for Aug. 6.

“I’ve been doing this for the last five years,” said the Rev. Elisabeth Malphurs, St. Alban’s rector. “We have a number of teachers and school staff at the church and they are invited to bring a backpack or a bag, and during the service in the middle of the service, we have a special going back to school prayer and we have special backpack tags that we do new every year for the kids.

“My husband is a teacher and has one from each of the four previous years,” she added.

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Malphurs said children who are homeschooled receive stickers they can place on a computer or any other item they use while learning. The stickers, she said, were first used during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding, “We’ve adapted.”

She said attendance for the blessing of the backpacks varies from year to year.

“The first year was drive-thru; Last year, we probably had seven or eight children,” she said.

And the special event has seen some unusual things brought to the church’s sanctuary.

“Two years ago, we had a student going to South Korea for a study abroad program,” Malphurs said. “She brought her suitcase and we blessed her as she was heading off to study in South Korea. Obviously, the blessing worked; she had a great experience and she’s back there now teaching.”

The start of the school year means more for St. Alban’s than the blessing of the backpacks. It marks the start of the church’s drive to assist children at Lifting Lives Ministry, a local homeless shelter for families.

“We’re collecting school uniforms for the families at Lifting Lives Ministry,” Malphurs said. “We’ve started our drive for school uniforms and they will probably be taken there before Aug. 6 so the families are ready for school.”

She said she sent an email to the congregation and members to adopt a child, get their size and the color of the uniform, and shop for the child’s uniforms.

“We do the same thing at Christmas with gifts and a family basket,” Malphurs said. “That’s our consistent ministry partner in the community. We also have an active volunteer who has a library there and does a storytime program for the children.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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