This December brought an overwhelming surge of generosity to the FamilyWorks Resource Center and Food Bank. Individuals and groups contributed by bringing in clothing, toys, and diapers to the resource center, buying children’s presents for our gift program, and donating thousands of pounds of food to the food bank. It is a telling statement that even in trying economic times, the community will unite to fulfill the needs of its neighbors. We thank everyone for their generosity.
Over thirty groups contributed their time and energy in December, mostly by hosting food and hygiene drives. These groups included churches, businesses, small organizations, and Girl Scout Troops. Some of these groups were hosting drives for the first time while others were veteran hosts, long-time supporters and contributors to FamilyWorks. One especially committed group is St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. They have been involved with the FamilyWorks Food Bank for over 20 years—back when it was known as the Fremont Food Bank.
This past year, St. Andrew’s had a goal to donate 2009 pounds of food to the FamilyWorks Food Bank over the course of the year. This averages out to about 170 pounds a month, which is quite the contribution for a congregation of around 300 families! They surpassed their goal of 2009 pounds, but not without hard work and dedication. Reverend Peter Strimer, who supports the outreach programs including the food drives, is an incredible motivator. He, along with Carol Marshall, a dedicated volunteer, help to get the congregation involved and enthusiastic about donating items to FamilyWorks. Carol works on The Log, St. Andrew’s newsletter, and includes each week’s weight in donated food. This constant reminder helps keep people involved and interested. According to Carol, there is also already a spirit of giving rooted deeply in the congregation.
St. Andrew’s is a prophetic church. They believe in proclaiming God’s love for all people and working for justice in the world, especially for “the poor, the marginalized, and the outcast.” Their outreach ministries supply food and community to those in need. “People are hungry in a variety of ways,” says Ruby, St. Andrew’s ministry coordinator who supports the volunteer ministries. St. Andrew’s works to fill that hunger in diverse ways–through spiritual, nutritional, and community outpourings. In addition to hosting monthly food drives for FamilyWorks, they also host a Jubilee Dinner and collaborate with other churches to supply a monthly dinner to homeless teenagers called Teen Feed. The Jubilee Dinner, which runs the last Sunday of every month at 2pm, is a 30-year old program that combines food and conversation. At this meal, the participants are served by volunteers and offered hand massages and gifts at Christmas. Everyone benefits from these outreach ministries.
An integral part of the Jubilee Dinner is conversation, and hearing people’s stories. “People come to the Jubilee Dinner to be fed, but we were fed by them,” Ruby said metaphorically about hearing several participants’ stories. These stories inspire others to contribute, to donate, and to lend an ear to someone in need of conversation. St. Andrew’s continues to be a source of inspiration for all of us in the community. “The ministry of all of us is outside of the church,” Ruby states. Carol agrees, adding that churches who want to get involved need only to “Get off of that ‘comfortable pew!’”