‘When I was hungry, you gave me food’ – Mt 25:35
With the temperatures dipping and the Christmas holidays approaching, the number of poor seeking relief and help increases.
But the churches of Franklinton began almost a year ago to set into place some long-term plans to respond in a more permanent way to the plight of the poor.
On Nov. 1, we proudly opened the Help Center of Churches Food Bank.
Holy Family Catholic Church in Franklinton has been working closely with the other community leaders to make this outreach happen effectively.
The Franklinton area has a large number of working poor and elderly persons on fixed incomes insufficient to meet their daily needs. Many of the persons being served at the well-established and ecumenically based Covington Food Bank have been from the Franklinton area, and the very expenditure of money for gas has been an obvious hardship for the poor.
While the ecumenical Help Center of Churches in Franklinton has been in operation for many years, the structure of service delivery has become inadequate. So, on this past Easter Monday, the member pastors began concrete planning to improve operations.
With the guidance of the staff of the Covington Food Bank, a system has been put in place for the collection of food items from member churches, civic organizations and various school clubs. Volunteers have come forward from the various churches and grouped around various functions needed: food collection coordinators, intake counselors to work with clients to determine need, those who keep the shelves stocked and those who will make up the boxes of food and work on distribution days.
Each partner church will have electronic access to basic information on each client so that we can better track a family’s developing need.
Each pastor will be notified when a member of his or her church comes to the Food Bank for assistance so that ongoing personal contact can be maintained to see if the person or family can be helped out of their current situation.
Within months we hope to have certified social workers to meet with those needing assistance in budgeting money or seeking employment. The hope of the Help Center is to offer those in our community needing assistance possible paths out of their dependency.
While this is a large undertaking for a community such as Franklinton – one that will need the financial support of those able to help – we, the member churches, are excited that this effort to serve the poor is truly ecumenical, challenging and a demonstration of a response to the church’s call for a new evangelization.
We can bring the Gospel into the middle of everyday life, needs and concerns.
Participating churches are Holy Family Catholic Church, First Baptist Church, Hillcrest Baptist Church, Centenary Methodist Church and Winan Methodist Church.
However, many other churches are partnering with the effort, so we are truly ecumenical, breaking down barriers which have separated while reaching out to those most in need.
We sincerely hope that many will join with us through the ministry of prayer for the success of this care for those most needy in our community.
Benedictine Father Peter Hammett is pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Franklinton. For more information, contact the Help Center of Churches Food Bank at (985) 839-2541.