Greenleaf's boxes bring holiday meals to families
By Becky Barclay
Published in News on November 21, 2012 1:46 PM
Sorting through donated nonperishables are Greenleaf Church members Vicky Cauthen, left, and Jacqueline Fennell. The items will be used to prepare food boxes for needy families for Thanksgiving.
The mother had been sick. Although she was on her way to recovering, it was close to Thanksgiving and she had no idea how she was going to have a special meal on the table for her children. It was beginning to look like another day of not having enough to eat.
But thanks to members of Greenleaf Church, the family will be able to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
It's part of the church's ministry to help those in need with food boxes at Thanksgiving time -- something the church has been doing for the past 25 years, said Vicky Cauthen, one of the members who helps with the project.
"We help families in need," she said. "How many families we can help each year depends on how much food donations we get."
All of the food comes from church members. Collection usually starts about two weeks before Thanksgiving.
"We give the members a list of foods we need, and they bring it in," Ms. Cauthen said.
A food box will typically contain all kinds of vegetables, a turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, rolls, sweet potatoes and even a cake mix or pie filling so the recipients can make dessert.
The boxes are delivered a few days before Thanksgiving.
The church finds those who need help in various ways.
"We ask people in the church if they know of anyone who needs a food box," Ms. Cauthen said. "And we go to Social Services and different organizations out in the community."
The church usually gives out four to six food boxes each year, but has occasionally given out as many as eight.
Ms. Cauthen said the families receiving the food boxes would probably not have anything for Thanksgiving otherwise.
"In past years, people have been very grateful and very appreciative and humble," Ms. Cauthen said.
"At this church, our pastor teaches us to show the love of Jesus Christ by helping others who are less fortunate than we are. That's one of the reasons I enjoy doing this."
Ms. Cauthen said it feels good to help others.
"I think everybody in this church has that humble feeling and loves to help somebody else."
Although it's Jacqueline Fennell's first year of working with the ministry at Thanksgiving, she's already hooked on the project.
"It's a very good feeling that you almost can't explain," she said. "We waste so much ourselves, those who have been truly blessed with abundance. So to be able to give to someone else, it's a wonderful feeling."
Ms. Fennell said it's something the church will always do and maybe even increase the number of food boxes it gives out in the future.
"I just know there's definitely a need," she said. "The problem is getting exposure to people who need the help. If more people know about us, we could probably reach more people."
That help doesn't happen just at Thanksgiving.
Greenleaf Church helps the needy throughout the year, too.
"One of the things we try and do is whenever someone calls in and needs assistance with their water bill, light bill and heating bill, especially when it's cold, we do what we can," associate minister Sylvia Barnes said.
Money for the assistance comes from members' tithes and offerings.
"It's just indescribable," Ms. Barnes said of helping others. "It makes you feel good when you know you've been taught and led by the word of God and then when you can help somebody. It just makes you feel all good inside."
Ms. Cauthen recalled the time the church held a 21-day revival and fed people all 21 days.
"Those were people who were homeless," she said. "That was a blessing to be able to give somebody a meal. It makes us feel very humble because we were doing what the Lord would have us do."
Then there was the time one Christmas when the church helped a woman who was partially blind with two little girls.
"We helped because the woman's disability check didn't help enough for her to be able to afford to buy Christmas for her girls," Ms. Cauthen said.
"She was very humble and very grateful. Now she's working and is self-sufficient."
"We try to help people all through the year," Ms. Barnes said. "But this time of the year is a special time because people think of the Thanksgiving season and what it stands for."