They came and the Lord provided
Tuesday morning (6/12/18) we were inundated before we had time to open the door The staircase was lined well before 9 am, and a steady stream continued for the rest of the morning. We served 33 households representing 135 individuals. Four had never been to the Pantry before. Fortunately, our shelves were fully stocked and multiple buckets lined the hallway with fresh produce. By noon, buckets and shelves were almost bare. Which is good!!
However, it’s obvious that Emmanuel’s Table procedures could use some adjustments.
Meet our clients
But take a minute to learn about those who come. Many are grandparents caring for grandchildren. Many have serious infirmities or are caring for someone who does. It’s unfortunately obvious that some have been caught up in the opioid crisis. A woman with two young children said her electric service is about to be turned off because she cannot pay the bill. Another has a very sick mother, a husband who is in the hospital recovering from surgery, and she herself is suffering from a badly infected tooth. Many with obvious physical ailments can barely make it up and down the stairs unaided. Most appear tired. We rarely hear expressions of bitterness or impatience or irritability—instead, we hear repeated gratitude. Several give us a hug and a kiss. We are getting to know so many who benefit from this ministry yet we are the ones being ministered to!!
It’s becoming a community effort
Oh, and one more note about how our greater community has joined us. A retired couple from another church comes monthly to assist. A former parishioner comes when he can, usually a couple times a month. A family with four young children helps regularly with offloading new stock. One watermelon per child X 4 X 4 trips make a sizable dent in offloading.
Immediate needs of Emmanuel’s Table:
a. Tuesday workers. Obviously. There were four of us working Tuesday, and we did not stop. A person designated as greeter (plus general problem solver and go-fer) is now a necessity to help streamline the day and more importantly to have the time to “come alongside” our guests most of whom respond readily to someone who has time to listen.
b. Unloading and repackaging help. Heretofore, one FULL carload per week was sufficient to restock the pantry. But with the number of folk who came through Tuesday, more trips to the Winchester food bank will be needed. Typically unloading the weeks’ haul is timed to coincide with the end of Monday’s Bible study at 3 pm with most who stay on cheerfully unpacking, repackaging and restocking shelves. But more hands would make the work lighter.
a. $$ for food. Our best source for food remains the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Everything they offer is far less expensive than big box retail, often only a few cents a case. For example, 8 jars of 48 oz. cinnamon applesauce cost $1.30. Spicy breaded chicken filets cost $1.66 for six 5 pound bags. There are often unusual and fun offerings too, like twelve 17.6 oz jars of salsa for 65 cents. The costliest items such as cereal, are still a bargain at $1.00 for a large box. All fresh produce is given to us at no cost. However, because they also rely on donations, BRAFB’s offerings are haphazard and often limited. You probably remember when they didn’t offer cereal for months.
b. Other items. Family Promise has been donating their oversupply of toilet paper. After being approached by a congregant, a local dentist donated several boxes of toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss. Often congregants drop off assorted food items, tote bags, and other useful items. These are all invaluable.
c. Our gardens’ bounty. Bring it on! Delivering your produce around 3pm Monday or before 9am Tuesday would be ideal. But whatever you can whenever you can would be much appreciated. Be sure to let us know if we can pick it up.
3. THE LORD EMMANUEL’S TABLE
a. Talk to Him about those who come to the Pantry, about those who serve in the Pantry, about the needs aforementioned.
b. Be His hands and feet. It’s our privilege and honor.
c. Thank Him. He truly is an awesome God. We attest to His faithfulness in all aspects of Emmanuel’s Table and especially Tuesdays. He has been faithful. He promises He will be.
[The above article was written and submitted by Alice Findler, our food pantry coordinator. We are so grateful for her ministry.]