Church feeds God’s ‘sheep’ weekly
This is an installment in a series about how the economy has impacted services provided by groups and agencies in Harrison County.
It’s been nearly a year since Victory Baptist Church opened its doors once a week to give away free food, and it’s seen a steady increase in the number of people who benefit from its service.
Patti Wood, coordinator of the church’s food bank, has been involved since September when it started.
‘It’s a brave thing this church is doing,’ she said. ‘Food banks are time consuming, tiring and hard to keep volunteers for.’
Each Wednesday morning, Wood and her main colleague, Judy Carrier, and any other volunteers, meet at the church, which is located along S.R. 135 just north of S.R. 64 at New Salisbury, to travel to Dare to Care’s food bank in Louisville. There, they load up canned goods, other staples, bread and sometimes produce ‘ up to 2,000 pounds of food ‘ in Wood’s 1996 Suburban then return to the church to sort through the goods for distribution that afternoon, beginning at about 4:30.
The goal is to be set up by 2 p.m. so volunteers can take a break before people arrive to pick up items. That doesn’t always happen.
‘Even the folks at Dare to Care said we wouldn’t last a year doing it every week because it is so hard,’ Wood said.
The volunteers pay for the gas needed to make the weekly trip.
‘We get discouraged sometimes, but then we get a note or a word of encouragement from one of our ‘customers’ and we remember why we do it all,’ Wood said.
Carrier, Wood and Wood’s two children, daughter Koree and son Ethan, who helped with last week’s collection and distribution, shared stories about different people who have received assistance at Victory Baptist.
Dare to Care allows Victory Baptist to give away food items to not only Harrison County residents, but also to those in Crawford and Meade, as well. The only requirement is one box of food per household. Recipients have to provide their name and address.
‘We don’t pry,’ Koree said. ‘We just get the information we need.’
The people start lining up between 3:45 and 4 p.m., creating a steady stream of recipients when the doors first open at 4:30. Then, the volunteers have more time to fellowship with one another while waiting for those who are just getting off work to arrive.
The Rev. Daniel R. Bates, who has been the pastor at Victory Baptist since January, is usually available at the food give-away to talk with the recipients. He leads a Bible study hour on Wednesdays at 7 when the church is finished with the food bank.
‘When we started, we had 32 families,’ Wood said. ‘We sometimes serve up to 60 families now. The economy is really causing issues for everyone, and we hear a lot about people who have to pay for gas to get to work and then can’t afford to buy food.’
Their busiest week is toward the end of the month, when people begin to run out of food stamps and other assistance.
While those who may believe their prayers are answered each time they receive the food boxes, Wood and Carrier talked about how they have experienced answered prayers.
One week it was when a man showed up with a truckload of food. The Dare to Care selection was pretty poor this particular day and the women didn’t know what they were going to do.
Now, they are praying for a freezer and a refrigerator that will store donated items until they are given away.
Anyone who might be able to help is urged to call the church at 347-2101.
Wood said the weekly work is hard but also rewarding.
‘We fully intend to continue to do it every week for as long as the Lord wants us to,’ she said. ‘The Lord tells us to feed His sheep and, as long as we can, we will.’