Food for Thought
On a recent Thursday, after helping serve our morning Food Closet clients, volunteers were treated to an appreciation luncheon. There were around 20 present, which although only about 10% of our full complement of volunteers, provided a good time to enjoy Wegman’s finest offerings! During the luncheon several of our clients happened to be in the Atrium, and of course were invited to join us---just an extension of the hospitality we offer at each of our 4 monthly distributions. Charlene Fitzwater, organizer of the event, suggested we talk at our tables about highlights, or peak moments of our ministry. Much conversation ensued as we reflected on the gift of having and serving in a Food Closet such as ours.
In fact, Ron Miros was inspired to write a poem which beautifully describes who we are, who we serve and what we do (at the end of this article).
Our clients come from all over Chester County, and their ages span the spectrum. Some are “regulars’ and others are just going through a rough patch and come for a brief time. Open every Thursday, the 1st and 3rd weeks our Closet runs from 9:00-11:00am; the 2nd and 4th Thursdays clients come between 5:00 and 7:00pm. Clients are welcome to come twice a month, whichever times work for them. In the event they can’t come many will have a proxy receive their food. In addition to regular weekly offerings, we also fill bags for hearty Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners.
Throughout the year, some of our 200+ volunteers pick up groceries 2,700 times to serve approximately 300 households. These and other statistics are faithfully and efficiently recorded by Barb Atmore and Yvonne Simmons
The more than 200,000 pounds of food distributed comes from individual donations, Chester County Food Bank, WaWa, Acme, Wegmans and most recently, the Wayne and Malvern Snap Kitchens. From spring through fall we are blessed with an abundance of fresh produce from a variety of sources including many local gardens. Jane McGowan, Reuben Garrett and a team of folks work diligently each Wednesday to do quality inspection on the veggies
A number of our clients comment on the fact that we provide them with choices, as they select items from a list. The shelves in our small “closet” are well stocked with basics such as cereals, pastas, canned vegetables and fruit, peanut butter, condiments, etc. The freezer overflows with chicken, meat and often, fish.
In Fellowship Hall we provide a mixture of extra frozen goods – cheeses, meats, hummus, etc. We don’t know from week to week what our offerings will be since it is largely dependent on what we receive from the large stores.
The perimeter of Ashton Hall is lined with tables where folks will fill their carts with an assortment of canned goods, crackers, cookies, pasta & rice before moving on to the produce tables. Bread and desserts come next, then WaWa “surprise bags,” Snap Kitchen offerings, milk & eggs. Most recently we have been offering personal items such as deodorant, shampoo, laundry detergents and toilet paper.
My heart has been touched by the gratitude expressed by those we serve. They comment on the fact that at Good Samaritan’s Closet they are treated with love and respect, something not necessarily the case elsewhere. I am also humbled when I see some of our clients volunteer during our distribution---they are grateful to be able to give back. While most of our volunteers are Good Samaritans, some attend other churches; and we are always glad for the students who come from schools like Conestoga, Villa Maria, Devon Prep. We have grown in the past few years both in numbers of clients and volunteers needed for the numerous responsibilities required to run such an efficient operation---in fact, much of the behind-the-scene work happens throughout the week, not just Thursdays. We are always in need of more volunteers, so please consider trying us out! Or speak with Linda Davis Haver, Carole Scheffey, or Joan Lodge about their experiences.
I feel immensely blessed to serve in this ministry. Perhaps one of the most heart-warming things I observe is the community which has developed among our clients as they register and socialize in the Atrium while waiting to pick up their food. Some come very early and just sit and visit. Our Atrium is safe and welcoming. Additionally, some of our clients have begun worshiping at CGS! Lastly, the time we spend with one another as volunteers---checking expiration dates, storing, organizing and setting up for the week, praying at the beginning of our distribution---has created its own sense of community and I look forward to this time each week.
FULL CARTS, FULL HEARTS
They enter in both days and nights,
Seeking food and seeking light.
We fill their carts with mounds of vittles,
Caress their hearts, and don’t belittle.
We serve up coffee, crackers, cheese;
We hold some hands; give ears to pleas.
With fear of lack of food begone,
Their hearts are open to God’s song.
We sing to them in caring prose,
Intended to address their woes.
Where two or three are there together,
God is nigh, to Him they’re tethered.
Full hearts, full carts, always our goal.
To Shar, to care, and to console.
We “Closet” on, holy endeavor.
Ministers to Christ’s whomevers.
Ron Miros 4/21/18