During the Christmas season of 2020, Acts of Peace, a ministry of the Montgomery First Church in Alabama, teamed up with the area food bank and the Montgomery Hispanic Church to deliver a unique holiday gift.
Since 2009, Acts of Peace has collected food and supplies for families in need during the holidays. Every year they assemble gift bags filled with toys, along with grocery bags filled with a variety of fresh perishable and non- perishable foods. This year, the ministry partnered with the area food bank and a local supply for children’s toys. In total, the church provided Christmas gifts for 248 children, along with a large box and bag of groceries to their 84 families.
The ministry is led by Amy Mapp, a Montgomery First Church member, and her husband, Bernell. The outreach effort includes monthly food distribution as part of a mobile pantry and other miscellaneous community programs throughout the year. Among the numerous volunteers at the Christmas event were Evelyn Maryland, church member, and her sister Miriam Kust, a church member from Tampa, Florida. As the sisters worked together to build the interest list of families and their needs, they came across an apartment complex that had many families in need. They started going door-to-door, offering to sign families up for the free food and gifts that would be made available closer to Christmas. At first, many weren’t answering the door or signing up for the giveaway. Maryland reached out to friends from the Montgomery Hispanic Church for their assistance in Spanish translation opening their pathway.
Additionally, Montgomery Hispanic Church rents an apartment in the complex to hold weekly mid-week services. This prompted more families to share their information. As they collected this information to shop for age-appropriate gifts, they also learned that many apartments had more than one family in them. Three of the small two-bedroom apartments that signed up for the service had 21 people living in them. Many of the homes had little to no furniture in them. Most families drove to the church to pick up their supplies, and the remaining families had their gifts delivered to their homes by additional volunteers.
Another volunteer who participated in the event was Dru Amos. Amos isn’t a church member but learned about the ministry through a flyer posted at an area YMCA, and has worked with the church ministry for more than a year. Amos helped with gift-wrapping, and then returned to help distribute on Sunday, December 17, 2020. Amos retired from the Air Force in 2015, but said she “wasn’t done working.” Amos volunteers at various community services throughout the area, including the Montgomery Area Foodbank and a Tuskegee Airmen program.
The Christmas distribution event was a fantastic example of churches and people working together. The event’s success is credited to God and the efforts made by many people, including those who went door to door, translated English and Spanish, arranged the donations, packed the bags, managed the cars in the parking lot, and distributed to those that couldn’t get to the church. The partnership made with the area food bank and other community entities that provide resources also added to the event’s success.
If each church could work together with others to share strengths and partner with existing programs, many community needs could be met. It’s possible that people could be reached in the manner of Jesus, by recognizing and meeting their needs.
Gulf States | February 2021