If it wasn’t for this food, I am not sure how my family would make it,” said “Joanie.” She had arrived two hours before the Jasper, Tenn., Church food pantry opened up, just to ensure her family had food to eat for the month.
This is a primary way that the church members and Jasper Christian Adventist School (JACS) students work to meet the needs of the community. The students work alongside the adults in unloading the food trailer, and filling the boxes the day prior to distribution. What a blessing it is to have a team of dedicated volunteers that range in age from elementary school to retirees.
Sharon Garner, Jasper Church community services leader, took over this church ministry before COVID-19, and has seen the food pantry’s demand double since then. Now they are regularly giving out 60 boxes the third Wednesday of every month.
She and her team strive to build relationships with the people too. For shut-ins or those who have transportation issues, they will personally deliver the boxes and even do follow-up visits to help the most desperate situations, including delivering hygiene items and toiletries. The greatest struggles they are seeing is for the elderly and families.
Opportunities for prayer open ways to minister also. For instance, some elderly people have shared with Sharon that they garden and can food to “stretch” their dollars. Noticing that seeds are expensive, the Community Services Department is turning a new corner to implement teaching people how to “fish” by sharing seeds, so people can learn to grow their food. This approach will make a huge difference in the lives of the community members since the large food bank in Chattanooga is overtaxed by many organizations and churches, and has limited produce and fruit.
Many lives are impacted by this outreach through the personal touches of the volunteers, literature shared in each box, prayer, and encouraging recipients to share with their neighbors too.
The Lord is truly blessing as He pours His love through the boxes to each person.
Georgia-Cumberland | November 2023