(Rev. Rudy Heintzelman, Executive Pastor of First UMC of Dothan) - As gas prices continue on the rise, many of the working poor in our community have to make the hard decision to buy food or put fuel in their auto to get to work. If they do not go to work, they get no money. It certainly is a Catch-22 situation for them. Of course, we also know that the price of groceries has gone up dramatically over the last few months.
Because of this there has been a marked increase in the number of people who literally need to supplement the food resources for their families. A lay person in the church came up with an idea to simply put a paper grocery sack with a list of non-perishable items needed to be distributed to our community. Our members could then go out to the grocery store, purchase items that were requested and bring it back to the church the following Sunday and place behind their cars (yes, we did pray for nice weather). A team from our Community Outreach Ministry Team would then collect the groceries.
On Palm Sunday we placed approximately 600 bags on the windshields of our members. On Easter Sunday the parking lot was just lined with bags behind cars filled with groceries to be distributed to those in need in our community. There were approximately 400 bags returned. Those cars that did not have a bag behind it were given another bag to be brought back the following Sunday.
Many families, especially families with small children, shared how appreciative they were for the opportunity to use this as a teaching opportunity for their children to serve those in need.