METROPOLIS, Ill. — As the mom of seven adopted children who also fostered 11 others, Dena Hopkins knew Amanda Holbrook was a go-to person for how the foster system works and what the needs of foster children and foster families are.
Those discussions started a new outreach ministry — James 127, based on the scripture that reads, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (KJV).
Members of First United Methodist Church of Metropolis have been putting together duffle bags to provide items for foster children in the area. Through James 127, Hopkins and Holbrook are taking that a step further.
“I’ve gotten children in the middle of the night. You don’t always have what you need and sometimes these kids come with nothing,” Holbrook said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a newborn or a 17-year-old, you can’t always leave when you first get those children. Those children are scared and frightened. You don’t want to get them out in public first thing because you’re typically having to love, care for, feed, bathe them. Knowing somebody was bringing me a meal or a sack of clothes or a toothbrush or more diapers or formula — having that support system is a good thing.
“We recognized the need for assistance that foster families and relative placements in our community have,” she continued “We are making this a community project, getting other churches, organizations and people involved. Typically, when a child is placed with you, your out-of-pocket expenses run between $200 and $400, more or less depending on the age and needs of the child, when they first move in because of what you’ll need to buy.”
Those needs can include emergency or long-term needs from diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, a car seat, a crib or bed, clothes, shoes to backpacks and school supplies — “any of the needs you have when you get a child,” Holbrook said. “We’ve even helped with funding for an extra air conditioning unit.”
James 127 actually began in January 2020, with plans to offer a parents’ night out to provide parents or grandparents a break for three or four hours, a back-to-school carnival and fundraisers. But COVID set those plans on pause.
However, “we’ve been blessed with money,” Holbrook noted. And that is allowing James 127 to “bless several families with items and gift cards for groceries or Walmart.”
From its inception through mid-July, James 127 has served more than 70 children with emergency foster care kits, as well as more than $3,600 in gift cards and financial assistance for car seats.
Holbrook said James 127 is looking for volunteers to help, along with those who are needing assistance.
“We want to help get any needs met, anything a family may need,” she said. “We want this to be a community-based project for all of Massac County. We want the community to know we’re here to help in any way possible.”
Holbrook said foster or kinship parents and their children are kept anonymous
“We will respect the privacy of the family. We’re here to help and bless them in any way possible,” she said. “Anyone with a foster child or relative placement is welcome to get this. We want to be there to support them through their journey. We just want to love them and care about them and these kids and to let them know people are here and will pray for them.”
For donors, James 127 is a 501c3 through First United Methodist Church of Metropolis.
“We’re looking for more volunteers, members of the community, to join our group,” Holbrook said.
To become a donor or to get involved in James 127, contact Hopkins at First United Methodist Church of Metropolis at 618-524-9325.
To receive assistance from James 127, contact Holbrook at 618-638-7001 or through her Facebook page.
Information is also available on the ministry’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/James127ministries.