Anyway, the crux of the sermon was this: "How can anyone hear the Gospel if they are hungry?"
Obviously, this has stayed with me as a great truth.
I'd been volunteering at the mini food cupboard that my church sponsors for a couple of years, just one afternoon each week. A few weeks before Lloyd died, the school where I'd been working chose to open rather than have virtual instruction, and I felt I couldn't take the risk. So I retired. And simultaneously realized that I now had one morning each week to volunteer at the big food pantry for our county. It is literally a five-minute drive away.
And it's been wonderfully rewarding. The Thursday morning group is hard-working and cohesive. We wear our masks and keep our distance. Serving the guests is a no-contact model. I feel safe.
Yesterday when we opened up, our fearless leader (the only paid employee among the seven or eight of us) said, "I think it might be busy today. Yesterday was the busiest day we have ever had. We served 40 families. So I think today might be pretty busy, too." Normally on Thursday we serve between 19 and 26 families. So we started by preparing for 40.
And we ran out and had to prepare more. Each family received three bags of shelf-stable groceries, one bag of meat, dairy and egg products, one not-very-big bag of fresh produce, and one big bag of special things for a Thanksgiving dinner. We had some certificates for turkeys to give out, and one of us made a trip to the supermarket for $200 more of turkeys. And we ran out.
We were scheduled to open for distribution at 11. At 10:40 there were already eight cars lined up and spilling out into the street. When we closed -- out of necessity -- at 12:45, we had served 45 families.
We also took in a tremendous amount of donations, each bag to be weighed and receipted, checked for dates and then to stock shelves for packing the bags.
This pandemic is taking a terrible toll on families. In all likelihood, this week our food pantry will serve nearly 200 families. That is a lot of hungry people, and among them many are elderly.
At this time of year, people are urged to give to food donation programs. "Reverse Advent calendars" that spell out how to give an item a day for a month show up. Please, dear reader, know that the need is real and the need is great. If you can afford to give to your local food pantry this month, please do it, and if you can continue the next month and the month after that, so much the better. Do it, knowing that you, too, are helping to share the Gospel.
Suggested donation items: Canned meat and fish (avoid pork), peanut butter and jelly, pasta and spaghetti sauce, breakfast foods. And don't forget personal care items; food stamps can't be used for them.
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