Assembly of God food giveaway

                                                                                                                                   Photo by Shari Harris
The line wound around Assembly of God church Tuesday as workers quickly loaded food in vehicles in an effort to reduce wait time for the drive-through food giveaway.
By Shari Harris

“Every day’s a great day,” said one participant in the food giveaway at Licking Assembly of God church on Tuesday, June 9. GoFresh, in partnership with the USDA, seeks out non-profits, food banks and faith-based organizations in communities throughout the Midwest and Southwest to help over 300,000 families in need each week. Convoy of Hope also assisted, shipping the boxes of food for the event.
The giveaway was slated to begin at 1 p.m., allowing church members time to unload the shipment of food and transport 150 family allotments to the Senior Center to be distributed from there. But by noon, cars were beginning to line up. Assembly of God Pastor Paul Richardson said he couldn’t see having people wait in the hot sun for so long, especially when most participants were elderly. So by 12:30 p.m., the cars were driving through.
Megan McPherson and Larissa Satterfield, Outreach Coordinator for the church, greeted people in their vehicles and determined how many families were being served. They provided the driver with a card listing the number of dairy boxes and the number of vegetable boxes they would receive.
When the driver pulled up to the open bay on the northwest corner of the church, they were greeted by an enthusiastic Russell Kane. “Thank you for coming by,” and “We thank you for the opportunity to let us bless you,” were some of his heartfelt greetings.
Julie Richardson took the driver’s card and handed it to Kane. Helpers from the church and the community waited near each pallet of boxes and responded immediately to Kane’s calling out of the order. Much like worker ants in reverse, they hurried to give away instead of gather, loading boxes of food, cantaloupe, and jugs of milk into people’s vehicles then returning to their ever-decreasing stack of boxes in the bay.
It was a happy day for all. The helpers, most from the church but also from the community at large, were greeted by one car at a time of smiling, waving people, thanking them for the food. Those picking up food were treated to an efficient, friendly group of people who seemed genuinely happy to be able to help.
Pastor Paul Richardson said, “It is a way for us to show a tangible expression of love.”
Julie Richardson, his wife, echoed his sentiment, “This is a great way to make Christ’s love tangible.”
In all, 250 to 300 allotments were handed out at the church. Dana McGuire, MU Extension Nutrition Educator, helped at the event. MU Extension is the education component of the SNAP program, and if you are running out of money for food, they can assist with resources for proper nutrition at 417-967-4545. Officer Weaver of the Licking Police Department assisted with routing the traffic. The line wrapped around the building at times despite the efficient loading of vehicles. Friend Lumber Company loaned the church a forklift for unloading the boxes of food. The community came together to the benefit of many.
“God bless everybody,” and “Thank you,” were sentiments heard from many of those receiving food.
“It’s just a blessing to me (to be able to help),” said Reggia Ward, who spent her afternoon handing out food.
Russell Kane summed it up for all the helpers, “It’s just awesome to be able to do this and give back to the community; be able to touch each family. People in the church came together today.”



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