A Bag Full of Love


First Baptist Church in Geneseo, Illinois


Police officers’ service often goes unrecognized.


Invite the kids’ ministry to create gift bags to encourage local law enforcement.

Because the people at First Baptist Church in Geneseo, Illinois, wanted the children of their congregation to know that law enforcement officers are good guys who are here to help and protect them, they decided to show the police their gratitude in a tangible way. Each year the church tries to do something special to honor police officers’ service, like making them breakfast. But because of COVID-19, plans had to be altered.

“The police department and other first responders have taken such a beating [during the pandemic],” says Tim Van Loo, a deacon and director of children’s church at First Baptist Church. “We’re a small town that really appreciates these guys and ladies and what they do, so we wanted to give them some love.”

This year the children of the church helped recognize the local police by assembling goodie bags. They put fruit, candy, muffins, personalized artwork, a prayer booklet and handwritten thank-you cards in each bag. 

“They are basically little pick-me-up bags for when the officers are out and about, to give them a little extra boost,” says Van Loo.

After putting the bags together, the kids, along with some church members, went to the police station to drop them off. The police chief knew they were coming, but it was a surprise for the rest of the officers when clapping children and big smiles greeted them in the foyer. 

“We presented them with our bags and letters, letting them know we love and appreciate them,” says Van Loo. “It was an emotional time.”

With hugs and handshakes all around, the experience uplifted officers’ spirits and spread joy.

“In today’s world, there’s a lot of negativity that’s swirling around, and we’ve got to get rid of that and replace it with positivity,” says Van Loo. “We want our children to learn to respect authority and appreciate what these people do for us. It was a great day with a great turnout.”