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Rural Church Gives School a Spring Break to Remember

Chandler First Assembly surprised kids at the East Elementary School with "Blessing Bags" just a day before Spring Break.
If any of the students at the Eastside Elementary School in Chandler, Oklahoma, weren’t already pumping adrenaline due to the approaching Spring Break, when Kevin and Judy Martin, pastors of Chandler First Assembly of God, arrived at the rural school on March 14 with a dozen volunteers to deliver hundreds of Blessing Bags, that “problem” was quickly resolved.

Each of the 286 students was gifted a Blessing Bag (roughly 10 pounds each) filled with a variety of sports drinks and vitamin waters along with a wide variety of hygiene items, snacks, and staples, such as ravioli and tuna packages.

“When we would walk into a classroom, the students’ eyes just lit up,” Kevin Martin says. “The kids were just so excited. In addition to the bags, the kids were also given their choice of several stuffed animals, or a purse decorated with sequins . . . it was like Christmas all over again for them.”

Huge smiles, wide-open eyes, giggles, excited whispers, tears, and hugs from children overflowing with happiness greeted the volunteers. It wasn’t just students, but teachers, administrators, bus drivers, and custodial and cafeteria staff who were also gifted a Blessing Bag — nearly 400 in all.

“Some of the teachers were actually almost in tears,” Martin recalls. “One parent later thanked me and said, ‘Nobody has ever been this kind to our students here.’ Every bag had our logo on it . . . it was a seed planted.”


Martin says that Chandler First Assembly, which runs 80 to 100 on Sunday mornings, is strongly missions minded. The church is currently in the process of building two more tabernacles in Africa, for a total of five.

“But the Lord began dealing with me – that we needed to bring this home and do something on the home side,” Martin says. “And then, God dropped The Kaleo Foundation in my lap.”

Martin explains it was through another minister outside of the Assemblies of God that he learned about Kaleo. The minister told him how his small church was able to partner with the foundation to do outreaches, but more significantly, that when they went to bag the packages, they could feel the presence of God and it helped bond his church together.

“When he told me that, I knew that was what I was looking for,” Martin says. “COVID had separated everybody, it’s time we came together.”


The Kaleo Foundation, founded by AG ministers Samuel and Pam Walker in Oklahoma City in 2017, helps specific rural churches impact their communities for Christ.

“We have to be very selective of who we partner with as the cost of shipping in goods has increased so much,” Samuel Walker says. “We want to make sure our partners are committed to building the body of Christ, not just feeding people.”

Walker says that he’s witnessed churches see exponential growth over and over again when they follow an outreach pattern, which the foundation helps churches establish.

“If they go in and do what we suggest, they see growth first in their youth, then in their congregation,” Walker says. “One pastor started with a congregation in the 20s, now the church is in the 90s — it’s a pattern we’ve seen repeated across the state.”

Walker notes that one of the foundation’s most significant partners is Convoy of Hope, getting their donations through Children’s Hunger Fund. He explains that because donated food items are becoming more difficult to find, he’s having to get them from farther away, such as Indiana, Illinois, and even Utah – meaning paying more and more for freight.

“The expenses keep increasing,” Walker says, noting the economy, “but we would love to get even more frequent distributions from them (Convoy).”


Once Chandler First Assembly was accepted as a ministry partner by The Kaleo Foundation, Martin worked with the school superintendent and the principal of Eastside Elementary to set up an event.

“When I told them what we hoped to do, they were both very excited and supportive of our plan,” Martin says.

On the church’s first visit to The Kaleo Foundation, nine people from the congregation made the 42-mile trip and filled 300 Blessing Bags.

“Samuel told me that this effort would help our church bond together,” Martin recalls, “and it has. There was so much excitement about being together, brothers and sisters in the Lord, and we found out this is what the body of Christ needs — there’s been a major difference in the attitude of the church, and we’ve only been there twice . . ., but I’m taking the youth group there next.”

Walker says that the Chandler church has a clear desire to minister.

“I saw a congregation that had a hunger for making an impact in their community and making their church known in their community,” Walker states.


Along with blessing Eastside Elementary, the church also distributed boxes of food to families in need in the community as well as to senior citizens that just needed some help. They also made up and delivered bags filled with energy bars and other “energy” foods and cases of hydrating drinks to several local and nearby volunteer fire departments.

“One of the firefighters told me, ‘You know, Somebody must be talking to you, because we just got back from fighting a fire for five days, and that totally depleted our drinking water supply,’” Martin recalls. “They rely on donations, so when we dropped off the individual energy bags and about 20 cases of drinks, they were so appreciative.”

Walker notes that so far Kaleo has distributed through partners more than 4,000 “energy bags” to fire fighters and other first responders since the outbreak of wildfires in Oklahoma and Texas.

In reflecting on the differences he’s seen in the Chandler congregation and other congregations and ministries Kaleo has partnered with, Walker believes something spiritual takes place while at the foundation – and Martin agrees.

“Working side by side, they developed a camaraderie — knowing they are working together in one cause, not to benefit one person, but to benefit the body Christ . . . I believe they can feel the presence of God in this place,” Walker says. “And they went after it (the work) hard and heavy – it was pretty amazing. But you know, we have groups in every day who have the same experience.”

For the Martins and Chandler First Assembly, blessing the elementary school and reaching out to first responders has created an even greater awareness of the church and spawned countless conversations, planting seeds of the gospel message throughout the community. And as the church’s slogan declares, “It’s a new day . . . and it’s all good.”

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.