A Simple Ministry
It had been a busy day at the pantry. Due to the Labor Day holiday, our normal Monday shelving and Food Bank delivery occurred Tuesday morning. We had just finished up and were setting up for normal pantry duties when Bud and Denise Abbott arrived. Bud and Denise, from San Antonio, had stopped in Bentonville to visit family on their way to Chicago. We're used to people asking for help, but Bud and Denise wanted to help us. They asked if they could pray for us. Yes, of course! As we chatted, we learned the Abbotts pray for churches in their community and when traveling they stop at churches and ask to pray for them. Their ministry is based on Luke 19:11-17, the parable of the ten minas. Their ministry is a simple one: pray for churches. It costs them nothing but their time. Along the way, individuals and church congregations receive the gift of prayer.
How often have you told yourself "if only I had more money, I could help more?" Or, "if only I had more time, I could volunteer more." We all tend to believe our gestures must be grand to be impactful, but the Abbotts have shown sometimes the simplest acts have more impact than we realize. Smiling at a stranger. Starting a conversation with a neighbor. Praying for a church. What a simple way to make a difference. Thank you Bub and Denise!
No Summer Vacation for Snack Packs
Snack packs consist of ready to eat or easy to prepare individual size foods for children that might otherwise not have foods over the weekend. Second Street Pantry Missions has been delivering snack packs to Washington Junior High School here in Bentonville since fall 2014. This mission was made possible through the long term collaborative efforts of a WalMart tax department team lead by Aaron Dick and SSPM. Two years ago SSPM partnered with an advertising company lead by Scott Caldwell, to begin providing snack packs to a second school: Lincoln Junior High. In the fall of 2018, a WalMart IT department chaired by Jeff Harris, began partnering with SSPM to provide the snack packs to Lincoln JHS.
It had been a goal of ours to also deliver snack packs to children during the summer months, and this goal was realized last summer when a delivery system was introduced through the FUMC Summer Eats and Bentonville Public School lunch program. This system of delivery was continued again this summer.
The mission to provide summer snack packs involves multiple people and efforts. Foods that make up the snack packs are purchased by Second Street Pantry Missions, delivered to the pantry on Mondays, and then inventoried by SSPM’s snack pack chairs, Ann Morrisey and Becky Koessel. Ann and Becky then organize the foods for the Walmart teams who assemble the snack pack. Last, but not least, the snack packs are picked up by Friday SSPM volunteers and delivered to the Delmar Apartments, Helping Hands and the Bentonville Public Library where children gather for lunches which are provided by Bentonville Public Schools.
This summer 1,160 snack packs were delivered to children from June 6 to August 9! These snack packs cost approximately $2.50 per pack. We are especially thankful to those who provided specific funds for this summer snack packs, and we welcome additional help as children begin the 2019-2020 school year.
As mentioned in the title, there is no summer vacation for the snack pack program. With school about to begin again, our junior high school counselors at Washington and Lincoln Jr. High will soon be letting us know how many children will be in need of snack packs during the 2019-2020 school year. So we are gearing up already by stockpiling snack pack appropriate foods to fill that need.
Illuminating SSPM Diaper Mission
It’s not just their bright smiles and their effervescent enthusiasm. It’s the fact that they radiate goodwill. This summer special groups of donors and volunteers have made SSPM’s diaper distribution possible. July’s edition of “Inside the Pantry” focuses on diapers. Yes, diapers!
In January of 2019, SSPM began a partnership with the Diaper Bank of the Ozarks. This partnership allotted 5000 diapers for SSPM’s distribution. SSPM’s plan to make the first Tuesday of each month “diaper day” was a huge success. So successful, that it was evident that our supply would be depleted quickly. So Ashley Rogers, our Diaper chairperson, proactively worked with Aaron Dick, a SSPM board member, to seek a diaper source. This resulted in a gift of two pallets of diapers and one of wipes from First Quality Consumer Products.
So how do you handle the gift of three full pallets delivered unannounced to the inside entrance area of Christ the King? First, and repeatedly, you tell Christ the King secretary, Vicky, how much you appreciate her accepting the delivery! Then you look for help to move the three pallet gift. Answering that HELP call was a group of four consisting of two moms and their two strong teens who are members of the Young Men's Service League. They enthusiastically took on the huge task of unloading and hauling all the cases of diapers and wipes up two flights of stairs to SSPM’s storage room at Christ the King.
The next step was to prepare the diapers for distribution. Under the leadership of Ashley, a few JustServe moms and kids repackaged, bundled, and labeled the diapers into bundles of fifty. Then on July 2, parents in need came to Second Street Pantry to pick up diapers for their infants and toddlers.
So that’s the behind the scenes account of July’s diaper distribution. Illuminating, right?!
Sweet, Sweet Spirits
May flowers can be likened to whispers of Christ. They are abundant; all you have to do is look for them.
Inside the pantry, one can feel and witness the whispers of Christ. Examples are abundant...if you look for them. Whispers are exemplified in smiles, words of greeting, and conversations between and among guests and volunteers. Beginning with early morning greeters and throughout the day, volunteers welcome pantry guests and also gift them with sacks of groceries provided by all who support the pantry. Whispers of Christ flower throughout the mission of Second Street Pantry.
Today’s insider story focuses on a special teenage volunteer who regularly volunteers in the pantry by helping to hand out sacks of groceries. Jayci is a special whisperer of Christ to pantry guests who are without homes. She ministers to our homeless guests in a very special way. She makes each one a personalized sack containing foods and care goods that she’s aware they need or would like to have. Jayci, by her actions, is whispering Christ to our homeless guests. Whispering that they are loved...Whispering that they are special.