A group formed to bond friendships is reaching out to the community through service projects.

The “Adults in Action” ministry group began in 2000 as a way for adults living with disabilities to come together with others – and work to make a difference in their communities.

Member Shanda Arnold keeps a scrapbook of the multiple projects the group has done.

“Our motto is ‘Helping others through helping you’,” she said. “We done a number of things throughout the years – from 2000 starting with wrapping Christmas packages free of charge at The Factory to Country Days and Relay for Life. Our organization helps other organizations as well as our own. We reach out to helping others.”

Arnold said the group holds garage sales as a way to raise money. That money, Arnold said, is used to help others pay utility bills.

For the first time, Arnold said, the group is reaching out to the community for a project.

The group is hosting a “Back to School” backpack drive for children in foster care on July 22. The Adults in Action will team up with the Christian Motorcycle Association on that day to pack the backpacks from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church in Farmington, located at 403 W. Columbia St.

Arnold said the group is hoping to pack around 450 backpacks for foster children in a five-county area and are asking for donations of items to complete their project.

Among the items needed are backpacks; 1-inch, 3-ring binders; wide-ruled filler paper; number two pencils – eight-count; 24-count crayons; markers; colored pencils; black ink pens; hair brush/comb sets; toothbrushes; deodorant for teens; toothpaste; and folders.

Donation boxes are set up in both Farmington and Bonne Terre. The locations include Clark’s Pharmacy, Dollar General (near Save-A-Lot), First State Bank in Maple Valley Plaza, and the Bonne Terre and Farmington Public Libraries.

In addition, donations of gift cards for the group to purchase the supplies are also welcome. To make a donation, contact Arnold at 573-315-5514 or Gigi Probst at 573-631-3486.

Donations are being collected through July 10. Arnold said they will also accept donations the day of the packing event.

Volunteers are also welcome to help pack up the backpacks on July 22 and would be needed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. to help with cleanup.

Last fall, the group packed 67 “start-up” kits for children for when they are placed in a foster home.

“Our goal is to do two projects a year, at least,” Arnold said.

She said the group was formed when she moved to the area to live with her godparents after her parents died.

“I needed somebody,” Arnold said. “So, my godmother set up this group of friends and named it ‘Adults in Action’ to start building a network. It’s made up of people of disabilities of all kinds.”

There are currently 39 members in the group who lend their talents in a variety of way. Some like to crochet … so they made baby blankets.

“We have five crocheters now in our group,” she said. “We’ve donated gas cards and food cards to our local church.”

They have also made shoeboxes through Operation Christmas Child, among a number of other events.

“We are friends helping friends, and we’re helping others, too,” she said.

Shawnna Robinson is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or srobinson@farmingtonpressonline.com

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