Bring in your non-perishable food donations Sunday, July 2
Grab-a-Bag Sunday is part of our ongoing monthly cycle of gathering, donating and delivering non-perishable food and supplies to support food pantry operations at B.E.A.M. in Jacksonville Beach and St Mary’s Episcopal Outreach in Jacksonville. Each month, volunteers prepare paper food bags with suggested shopping lists and make them available to worshippers after the Sunday service. Generous parishioners like you take these bags and fill them with the needed items.
During the week or on the following Sunday, the filled bags are returned, deposited in a collection station on campus or dropped off in the office. Volunteers and staff then deliver the bags to the agencies, sorting them to go onto the food pantry shelves.
Christ Church parishioner Craig Lee has served in this ministry for over 20 years. He knows the folks who come to St. Mary’s each month to receive food aid, and he has seen firsthand how the cycle of poverty can affect families for generations. Years ago he came to Father Rick to see if Christ Church could help support this ministry, and he answered wholeheartedly, yes. “Father Rick encourages us to participate and there’s an amazing outpouring of love and support, every month.”
Bob and Suzanne Franco were among the first to step forward when Christ Church was asked to fill a new Thursday rotation at St. Mary’s. “I was looking for a service opportunity we could do together when Bob retired” Suzanne says. Serving at St. Mary’s seemed like a great fit for the couple, who will become empty-nesters this year as their son graduates from high school. “The gifts we have received are awareness, grace, the time spent together… it’s just so fulfilling to be able to do for others.”
Food aid recipients can visit the pantry at St. Mary’s once per month. Craig has seen the need grow exponentially in recent years. “What used to fill the shelves for a month is now gone in two weeks or less” he says. Fresh produce and refrigerated foods come from Feeding NE Florida, and Publix donates day-old baked goods, but shelf-stable pantry items that can last families through the whole month are critically needed. Craig describes the impact of our involvement in no uncertain terms: “Without the support of Christ Church and its parishioners, the food pantry at St. Mary’s would close.”
Summer is the time of highest need for food aid, as families struggle to replace meals that are provided at school. Coincidentally, just as the need is at its peak, less food tends to come in through our “Grab-a-Bag program over the summer, as many parishioners depart for vacation.
Christ calls us to help those who are most vulnerable and in need of assistance. If you have not yet done so, we urge you to join your fellow parishioners and “Grab-a-bag.” Let’s fill the pickup truck, the office, and the food pantry shelves. If you have some free time this summer and would like to volunteer in this or another of our ministries, contact Parish Life Coordinator Leila Quinlan.