On Saturday, September 22, five of us from Mt. Haley – four adults and one child – helped distribute food to people in the tri-county region at Dow Diamond. In the span of six hours, we filled the trunks and backseats of cars representing about 950 families! This massive food giveaway was organized by a group called Filling Midland’s Cup, which has grown out of the ministries of Messiah Lutheran Church. I was impressed by the quality of the food donations that came in from individuals and groups from around the area. People received a wide variety of healthy foods, including a good bit of fresh produce. (I’ve never seen so many onions in my life!)
The five of us from Mt. Haley served in a variety of capacities. Some of us were in the ballpark where people gathered to wait for their numbers to be called. We greeted, talked with, and encouraged those who came. We heard their stories and gave them the gift of our time and friendship. Others of us worked in the food distribution system, filling carts with groceries, taking the carts outside to the waiting cars, and filling the cars with the greatly-desired and greatly-appreciated goods.
As I reflect on this experience, I have a few thoughts to share with you:
- There are many needs in our community. I was amazed at the seemingly endless stream of cars – of people – that came to receive help with their personal groceries. From 9am until around 3:45pm, there were perhaps one or two moments when the line of cars dwindled down to one or two. The work was constant and unending. When the final cars had left the distribution area, I had trouble believing that the work was really done. I was struck by how many individuals within driving distance of Dow Diamond came for help with groceries. That made me think: do any of these folks live in the neighborhood of our church, so we might continue to reach out to them in Christ’s love?
- Some folks don’t have a car. This is easy for us to forget, especially those of us who have a car (or two or three) and have always enjoyed ease of transportation. Perhaps ten or twelve of the people who came through the line on Saturday did so on foot or on bicycle. I helped a couple pack their backpacks full of food supplies and load bags of groceries onto their bicycles’ handlebars. They made two trips before all their goods made it home, which thankfully was not far away. Others arranged for their groceries to be driven home in volunteers’ cars. That made me think: what do we take for granted?
- Everyone was grateful. I was blessed to serve at the main “point of contact” – where groceries and trunks met each other, where volunteers and guests met each other. Through the span of over 900 vehicles, I never saw at individual upset, angry, frustrated, or disappointed, either with the long wait in line (several hours for some) or with the food gifts. Some folks I saw were literally jumping up and down in excitement for what they were receiving; one lady called this “Christmas in September.” That made me think: how can we be more grateful on a daily basis?
- All of this was done in the name of Christ. We didn’t push the gospel on people; we didn’t ask people if they knew Jesus as their Savior; we didn’t even check to see if they really needed this help. This was a “come one, come all” event. Anyone and everyone was invited to come and receive a blessing from God, orchestrated and organized and worked out by the hands of fellow disciples of Christ. That made me think: how can we continue to share Christ’s love with people in the future?
Here’s a short video about this event. Please take a few minutes to watch it!