A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, March 7, 2014
Be of Service—Close to Home (Feature Friday!)
Hunger is a scary thing. A very real thing. Countless people across the United States wake up hungry, or go to bed hungry, or perhaps both. Some of these people have families. Some of these people have two jobs. Some of them are on disability, or have been laid off, or are long-term unemployed. And still, they are hungry.
I attend church in a nearby suburb, in Skokie. The church I’m a member of is St. Peter’s UCC Church, and St. Peter’s has a commitment to several ministries and organizations that feed the hungry. Like the Niles Township Food Pantry. This food pantry is a part of the Township government. (For those who aren’t familiar with the township set up, here’s my quick explanation. A township encompasses an area of several suburbs in size, in intermediate area of land between a town/village/city and a county.) So, the Niles Township Food Pantry serves people in several neighboring suburbs.
Some might scoff at the idea of hunger being a reality in this particular area north of Chicago, since this swath of suburbs is reputed to be affluent. But hunger is often an unwelcome visitor. Sneaking into homes when the unexpected happens. Like a sudden, catastrophic car accident that permanently injures the main wage earner in a home. Or the loss of a job when a company closes. Or a divorce, or death, or any one of a countless number of grim, very real scenarios. And sometimes, the real need does not require a catastrophe; the family or the individual need may simply be a high cost of living and too little income. In other words, too much month, not enough money. Living on the edge of not-enough.
The Niles Township Food Pantry strives to feed 3500 people every month, on the average. They appreciate each and every donation—giving of food, money, time to volunteer, or any combination of the above. Plus, personal care items are in greater need than ever before. Soap, shampoo, razors, shaving cream, feminine hygiene products, not to mention laundry detergent. These items are so needed due to the increase of families in dire economic straits.
St. Peter’s UCC helps out this Food Pantry as they can, taking up several collections every year. Plus, the St. Peter’s Sunday school has designated the last Sunday of the month as collection day. The Sunday school students and teachers bring canned goods, pasta, peanut butter, and other dried goods to the church. St. Peter’s Pastor, Richard Lanford, appreciates the faithful ministry of church members Jane and Paul Abramchick. This couple brings the collected food over to the Food Pantry for distribution. This offering of food and the additional offering of money are two ways that the members and friends of St. Peter’s UCC offer out of the abundance with which God has blessed them to bless others. God be with this Food Pantry, all those who help there, and all those whom the Food Pantry serves.
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Very nice! I too am a member of a UCC Church – Warminster Pa. We also support Manna on Main Street which provides breakfast and dinner to those in the local community. Our church donates items and provides volunteers who help serve and cleanup during these meal times. I have helped serve on two occasions. Wonderful experience. Not only is it nice to serve but we get to speak to many of the people who come in. They are always so thankful and love being able to just talk to someone.
So glad to hear your church feeds the hungry, too, Rich. (It’s also good to know you attend a UCC church, too!) I take the words of Jesus n the Olivet Discourse in Matthew very seriously. Feed the hungry. Visit those in prison. Give a cup of cold water to those who are thirsty. Those are tangible ways of showing love and kindness to others. And when we speak to these dear folks, it’s an opportunity to be kind with our speech (by talking) and with our faces (by smiling). Thanks!