With some Shamong residents living in hotels and others unable to leave the house much during COVID, Indian Mills United Methodist Church has created a home for the holidays.
The church operates The Lord’s Cupboard, a food pantry open year-round, and hosts a Christmas tree complete with gifts for the area’s low-income neighbors.
“I am blessed,” said Holly MacDonald, who runs the church’s gift drive. “I have a home. We have food on the table every night, right? Other families can’t. That was so important to me to give back.”
Each year, Indian Mills United Methodist prepares baskets filled with all the Christmas dinner fixings, including turkey, green beans and stuffing, for about 15 low-income households. This year, those families will also receive grocery store gift cards and donated gifts from their wish lists.
“There’s always going to be people who need help,” said church Pastor John Orr. “Even when we’re not having a pandemic, or financial crunch, there’s always people who have needs. We’re responding to our Lord’s example and sharing that love with others.”
Many of the families the pantry serves have fallen ill, so some parishioners have volunteered to go grocery shopping for them. Orr said the church is willing to help anyone who needs it.
“People are sometimes a little shy to ask for help,” he added. “That first time may be a little frightening for them. But, I’m always available.”
This year, MacDonald and Bonnie Lynn, who also helps coordinate the drive, received so many donations that the church expanded its outreach and is now collecting wish-list items for families in Camden.
“Everybody just stepped up to the plate,” MacDonald noted. “I didn’t have to go looking everywhere and worrying about it. Everyone has been more than generous locally, to help us out.”
The Lord’s Cupboard usually collects donations from a Shamong Scout-run food drive, but COVID canceled this year’s event. Orr is looking for more non-perishable goods to stock the pantry, but also accepts gift cards that allow families to shop for fresh produce and meats.
The pantry has been open for about 15 years and has built a base of individuals who pick up food and give back in whatever way they can.
“There was a woman who had to live in a hotel and was sick and she had all these meticulous records of government agencies that she called over the years,” Orr remembered. “She gave them to me so that if we ever needed to refer somebody, we could. It was beautifully done.”
Involvement in the church’s holiday gift drive has been rewarding, MacDonald said.
“I hope that our children learn by watching me,” she added. “It’s so important. You want to make sure that they know that they’ve got to give back a little bit.”
Interested in helping out? Call Pastor John Orr at (609)-980-3527.