Monday, November 9, 2009

Community Service

A couple of years ago at a meeting of our ladies at church, our leader for that year asked us to fill out some worksheets. Included in the questions was one that I have thought about since then - "What is a vision you have for our ladies group or church?" My vision was for our church to create a food and clothing ministry. Many, many years ago, the church we went to for mission trips had a food and clothing ministry and on Wednesdays we would help volunteer there. It was amazing! This community is probably one of the poorest areas in West Virginia and yet somehow they always had a ton of food and clothing to donate. I don't think I really understood it then, but now I see that someone(s) made a lot of sacrifices to keep those ministries running as well as always have food and clothing available for people who were really in need.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago. I started really talking to my friend Cindy about some of her clients. She is a speech therapist and many of her clients live in the type of poverty that people seem to believe does not exist in our community. As I came across items that were free or cheap with coupons, or were given to me by others, I began just filling up bags and giving these things to her to give to clients. As I told mom about it, she began filling up bags as well. Tracey began sending me coupons (unknowingly contributing to these donations!). The more Cindy told me about these clients, and that many were crying upon receiving bags of items as "insignificant" as toothpaste, deodorant, pasta, cereal, etc., the more I wanted to do. Then one night I was talking to Stephen about one shampoo I had gotten for free. Pert Plus has a mail-in rebate right now where you will be refunded your entire purchase price when you purchase one bottle of shampoo. I just said to Stephen - imagine if every household in our church purchased one bottle of shampoo and donated it. No one would even have to pay for anything (except the stamp I guess), and we would be donating 80 or 90 bottles of shampoo throughout the community! To me, that is just insane! It's like it's just so simple!!

So I finally decided to do something about it. Last week I told our preacher and his wife that I want to start a ministry at church. The concept is simple. If I find out a way for people to get something free that is non-perishable, I will tell them. I'm thinking if I told our whole church about the Pert Plus deal, maybe 25% would go out and do it? Do you think that's a fair estimate? There's always going to be some elderly that don't even do their own shopping, some who forget to put it on their grocery list, some who don't believe it will actually work, etc. As for myself, I will get as many items as possible at events like triple coupons or other deals I find. For example, a few weeks ago Snuggle had out several $3 off coupons, and in most dollar stores that's exactly how much Snuggle costs! All of those went into donation bags. Other people who don't care to find good deals can buy an extra can of soup when they go to the grocery store and throw that in the donation pile. I figure pretty much everyone can afford to buy a can of soup or vegetables every so often (particularly when those things are almost always on sale for around 50 cents).

Every month we are going to pick a family to "adopt" for the whole month. All donations throughout the entire month will go to the family at the end of the month. I also am planning on adding up the amount of the items we are donating (approximately) so I can report to the church - hopefully so they will see how easy it is to do this and how much of a difference it will make. I have already gotten the okay from the higher-ups but tonight I am presenting it to the Ladies Group, in the hopes that the women who coupon will start to use coupons toward this ministry, and the ones who don't will give me their coupons so I can use them! Haha! Seriously, I am so excited about this and I am praying so hard that it will be HUGE and we can help so many people.

Here is an example. From the past couple of weeks these are just the items I have gotten for free from various stores and with various sales or coupons:

This is a total of items worth $66.97. And I didn't pay for a single one of these! That doesn't include the rest of the bags sitting in my laundry room now, and the most expensive thing in one of those bags was $0.74 I believe.

My theory is - if God is blessing you (and he is certainly blessing me!) then you should pool your resources to try to bless others. We are going to try to get that message across when giving our donations to people. Not just, "Here - we care about you and this is how we're showing it." But we want them to know we are able to do this only because of God and because we really want them to know God's love. These people probably do not feel loved by God. They probably feel that life sucks and is totally unfair. I want this to be the thing that gives them hope, helps them see that God is here and He does care about them, and I want them to feel loved by Him and others in the community.

And that's how Fed By Faith was started.


Ken Loyd said...

What a beautiful ministry and a model for how anyone can do the same thing within their own "circle." You'll never be able to count how many people will be influenced by this show of God's love, because it won't just be the recipients--it will be everyone who participates or even hears about it. Way to think and pray "outside the box" (or grocery bag).

Tracey Garner said...

I am so proud of you as though you were my daughter. What a vision God has given you. I am so happy to have contributed in some small way. I lots of overstock in Wilmington, that I will be gathering this coming weekend. Next week (the week of the 16th) I will be in Moore Co for a full week. Maybe we can get together then. I have just grown to love you through your words on your blog.
Do you ever do internet coupons? Here is a site that has some good ones.
Thanks for all that you do, and for letting me be a little bit apart of it.

jennifer said...

YOU are AWESOME. I love every single aspect of this idea (right down to its name). And I love you. You are so inspirational!

mae said...

This is the coolest idea! I love it! And it gives me some ideas about what I should do to empty my near Depression-era-looking pantry. I want to pass your idea on to the couponing ladies in my church!