You’re probably familiar by now with our weekly “Mission Scavenger Hunt” emails that alert our First Church family to the specific food needs of our Mission for the coming week. And our church has responded, not only with the requested items picked up when they were shopping for their own families and dropped off at the mission, but also by generous donations that have gone a long way toward, as Director Linda Murphy puts it, “Keeping Folks Fed.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic stay at home orders, our First Street Methodist Mission has indeed kept folks fed by offering contact-free delivery of groceries to households that otherwise would be going hungry.
What started out as a trickle soon became a steady stream of families coming through for a sack of staples that include things like peanut butter, bread, breakfast cereals, canned goods and shelf-stable milk and juice.
Now that stream has turned into a flood of hungry each week coming to our First Street Mission for help. And thanks to the tremendous generosity of our church and other supporters in our local community, we’re keeping more and more folks fed each and every week.
“It’s just been crazy,” Linda remarks “. . . last week we had more than 400 families come through. We had planned for 500 Thanksgiving Baskets and thought that would get us through Thanksgiving. We gave out all but the last 120 just last week.”
And then, on Wednesday of this week the Mission set yet another new record. “We had 240 families come through,” Linda relates. “The cars were wrapped around the building and backed up on Henderson. We sent an all-points bulletin to church staff to help us and they came running. We really couldn’t not have gotten through today without the additional help.”
Linda adds that recently she had to have a conversation with the CEO of the Tarrant Area Food Bank to solve the problem of getting and keeping enough food on hand to feed those who come. “We were placing such large orders we had to get a semi to deliver enough food for us,” she relates. “They’re now making one big delivery with a semi once a week and we’re going over there two additional days to pick up food.”
In addition to groceries, Linda says that the Mission has also provided more than $70,000 of rental assistance to help keep people housed who can’t pay their rent. “Kathryn Seeling has done a phenomenal job of fielding all those phone calls!” she adds.
Speaking to the generosity that has poured forth to help the Mission meet this need, Linda says, “People have been very generous, and almost every dollar we’ve gotten we’ve used to purchase more food or to help people not lose their housing. We’re hearing all sorts of stories as people come through; I can’t even explain the need right now.”
Also commending FUMCFW Staff members who have stepped up consistently, and often at a moment’s notice to help with the grocery packing and no-contact delivery to stand in for the Mission’s normal volunteer crew, many of whom are at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19, Linda adds, “We could not have done what we’ve done to help those who need it most without the extra funding and the extra help to meet this tremendous need in our community.”
As we head into the toughest time of the year to be hungry, homeless, or struggling to keep food on the table and rent up to date, please take a moment to offer your prayers and thanksgiving for the generosity that drives our First Street Mission and the dedicated team that serves there, no matter what.