By Paula MacDonald
At the beginning of each school year, Bell Shoals Baptist Academy teacher Esther Flores welcomes students and families, and provides them with details of their first field trip, which she believes is their most important expedition of the year, delivering food for families in need at the Good Samaritan Mission in Wimauma.
Flores and her husband, Bell Shoals’ pastor of student ministry, Victor Flores, have been supporting the efforts of Good Samaritan Mission for over 20 years. The couple began a relationship with the mission and its leader Pastor Bill Cruz when Victor brought teens to Good Samaritan for service projects. As a second grade teacher, Esther immediately thought of the impact that a visit to Good Samaritan would have on her own young students.
“Many children know that their families donate to organizations, especially during the holidays, but they never really have the chance to see where the food they give goes,” said Esther.
About a month before the trip, Esther details the project to parents at the parents’ night meeting. Students have about a month to prepare, doing chores around the house to earn money that they use to buy food and diapers for the Good Samaritan pantry.
One student, 7-year-old Mia Fletcher, captured Esther’s attention with her commitment to the project. Fletcher made cookies and bookmarks and sold them in her neighborhood, earning $35 to purchase food for the mission.
“Mia takes everything like this to heart,” said Laura Fletcher, Mia’s mother. “She definitely thought it through and came up with her own idea of what she wanted to do, and she sold about 80 cookies and 20 bookmarks. I was very proud of her.”
With their money earned, they shopped for the food items that they would donate. Esther believes that this is an important step in the process because it gives the children a sense of how much things cost.
After shopping, the students and many parents made the journey to Good Samaritan where they delivered food and learned about the mission and its educational programs for people in need.
The Good Samaritan Mission is always in need of donations for its food pantry. The community can help by dropping off donations to its campus at 14920 Balm Wimauma Rd. in Wimauma. For more information, call 634-7136 or visit www.GSMission.org.