Local Church Aids the Community

By Michal Basford

The nonperishable food, clothes, baby items and toys are kept in one of the classrooms at West End.

On Nov. 22 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the West End Congregation, the food and clothing distribution for needy families in the St. Charles area takes place.

“I think it has a positive effect [on the community] in that it provides for people’s physical needs, food, clothing, but we also are, hopefully, making a good name for the church in the community as a place for them to come for their spiritual needs,” member Gary Bond said.

Members of the congregation have been collecting items since the announcement was made Oct. 15. Baby items, children’s clothes, adult clothes, blankets, towels, toys and food have been collected. Some of the children’s clothes were leftover from last year’s distribution.

“Hopefully it will encourage the community, and it will let people know that there are individuals that care and that want to help people in need,” Minister Kevin Rutherford said.

People who come will have access to a light breakfast while they wait to go in to the distribution. The kids will have a table to color at if they want while their parents are getting clothes and food. Each individual or family will go through the same process: come in, be able to have breakfast, use trash bags to gather clothes, fill with as much as needed and use food ticket to go up to the counter in the fellowship hall to receive food.

“In any community  there is always a need, and for those of us who have more than we need for our own upkeep and security, we should be able to dispense those to our less fortunate among us in the community,” Elder David Campbell said.

Preparations for this event will take place on Nov. 20 and 21. Members of the congregation who have signed up to help will be packaging food into boxes, sorting clothes by size and gender, setting up toys or baby items, and setting up the foyer to greet people on Saturday. The plan is to package 100 boxes of food.

“We want to give some stuff away, but it won’t take care of their long term needs,” Deacon and organizer of the event Kyle Crews said. “What I’m really hoping to accomplish is that the people that come know that we care about them, we don’t view them as being somehow inferior to us in any way. We want these people to know that we have concern for them, they’re loved by us, we have people at this congregation that have experienced or are experiencing similar struggles, we’re no better than them because maybe they’ve had some difficulty in life. The important thing is for them to see that we’re passionate about helping them and we have compassion for them.”

This year, they tried to be more aggressive with getting the word out about the distribution. A letter and flyer was sent to each school in each school district of the St. Charles area. Members who are teachers took in information and gave it to guidance counselors to help further try to bring more people. Also, the distribution is earlier than last year because of weather and the holiday season. Last year, there was snow which prevented people from coming, limiting the number of people who came. Since it is a colder time of year, it is a good time to hand out warm items such as coats and blankets.

“I’m very happy that our deacon has organized that for us. I’m very happy that we have an opportunity to help people in need, and I believe it’s helpful to us to give to others and that also it is a Christian obligation,” Rutherford said.

This is the third year of this event at the West End Church of Christ. It has grown in the past two years both in the number of people who come and the amount of things people have brought in.

“[My favorite part is] interacting with the people for sure,” Bond said. “When people come and being able to talk to them and being able to help them and to see the appreciation they have for the help. That’s a wonderful thing.”

Crews has organized this from the beginning, working hard to get information to schools and members of the congregation. He has worked hard with this since presenting the idea for this work to the eldership at West End. It is the hope that it will expand into more than just an annual event.

“It’s encouraging to see that all the people here at West End are so enthusiastic about helping and so generous,” Crews said. “That’s really encouraging to see. Not everyone that gives here is in the best financial shape themselves. There’s a lot of people here who could probably use the help themselves, and they’re still contributing, and they’re still concerned about the needs of others when they themselves have financial problems.”