This ministry provides food and clothing to needy families in our neighborhood. Food is distributed and the clothes closet is open for all to shop. This is also a place where people can come to share their experiences and situations, and sometimes to just fellowship and talk or have prayer. It is funded by contributions made to the Fellowship Fund and Food Pantry Fund and staffed by dedicated volunteers.
In 2013, we distributed 2,403 bags of groceries to over 600 families, including 82 homeless persons. Some came only once and some every month. On average a family came between 3 and 4 times a year. There were 225 families who visited the food pantry for the first time in 2013. We distributed over 47,000 pounds of food (almost 24 tons) this year – an increase of 34% over 2012. We strive to provide well-packed bags of food each week.
About 60% of food we distribute comes from the USDA program. A change in distribution of food from the Food Bank required that we pick up USDA food once a month instead of weekly. With this change, the amount of food picked up at one time required extra help. One week we picked up 3,600 pounds of food. Dan Schumacher came to our aid by organizing a group of volunteers to pick up food on the first Wednesday of each month. Many thanks to Dan and his team for taking on this task.
This ministry to the needy could not be accomplished without the help of a lot of volunteers. In 2013, 19 volunteers gave over 2,200 hours of their time to make this ministry possible. Many thanks to our regulars who come most every week – Jerry Spiller, Priscilla Kinchen, Joey Kinchen, Jack White, and Bill and Jean Finley – who serve so faithfully. I want to also acknowledge the help Dan Schumacher provided this year.
Jane Denzler continues to manage the clothes closet, assisted by Linda White, Connie Jones and Brenda Cox. For nearly three months, Jane was unable to volunteer for the clothes closet; and in her absence Linda, Connie and Brenda did an awesome job keeping the clothes closet stocked and operating. Each week the volunteers sort donated clothes, shoes, etc., hang clothes in designated areas for women, men and children and assist clients in selecting clothes. Items chosen are bagged and toiletries given out if available. An important part of this ministry is to maintain a friendly environment where clients feel welcome and comfortable. Each week, a steady number of clients visit the clothes closet as the word spreads about this ministry. Consequently, we always need your clothing and shoes, particularly for men. Thank you to everyone who donated clothes and toiletries. With your donations, our clients are able to tell us Tabernacle’s Clothes Closet is the best in the area.
We continued the mission-of-the-month ministry which helps provide toiletries, socks, etc. to our patrons and helps to keep costs down. This ministry continues to provide a vital service to our neighbors in need. A few have attended Tabernacle worship services from time to time, and we let everyone know they are always welcome.
If you visit us on any Thursday, do not be surprised if you hear laughter, for it truly is a fun working environment. Every week people tell us what a great thing this church is doing and how much they appreciate what we do and the way they are treated. I think that is what this ministry is about – whether it is getting food, clothing, or just having someone listen. We want people to feel better after coming here. I find every year that the people who serve in this ministry do so because they want to help others. We are still here because there is still a need and because we have people willing to help address the need. This is a ministry of serving, expecting nothing in return. We are just there to help. To me, this is Church.