“I think we might need more than just the two of us to unload everything,” the community missions pastor from a local church said with a wry grin. Minutes before, Adam (not his real name) had pulled up into our small parking lot at Gano and knocked on the door to announce the welcome arrival of a large food, clothing and toy donation. “Yeah,” he continued on to explain to me as I stood gaping, frosty-breathed in the January air, at the small mountain of shared generosity waiting to be placed on our shelves. “After we came to the food pantry last week and saw that ya’ll were basically limited to handing out cans of green beans, cereal and little else, I put the word out to all of our Sunday school classes — and in less than 4 days, this happened.” It’s true that our available supplies (provided solely by in-kind donations and the Houston Food Bank) have been fairly scarce in the recent past. It was with great joy, therefore, that Adam, myself and three other pairs of helping hands spent the next 45 minutes transferring bulging trash bags of clean clothing, recycled boxes overflowing with plastic toys and grocery sacks with dried, boxed and canned goods inside from the church vehicle to our building. Volunteers then spent the following two days sorting through the items and distributing them equally between Gano’s food pantry and the clothing closet at Fletcher.
Is it coincidence that the supplies were dropped off at MCH less than three days after much of Houston was submerged in record-breaking flood waters, leaving many without power and others without any shelter at all? Personally, I don’t think so. Do we take it for granted that a small group of monthly volunteers would arrive on site, observe a felt need and — completely without external prompt — rally their own community to give a tangible outpouring of love and generosity on to the clients whose families we serve every week? Absolutely not. As the paper handles of heavy grocery bags cut grooves into my chilled hands during yesterday’s blustery unloading and sorting out experience, I found myself wondering: is this gratitude churning up within me akin to what Moses must have felt every morning when he stepped foot outside of his tent and knew, thanks to provision completely beyond his control, that his neighbors would not go hungry for another day?
This morning, I watched bilingual grandmothers, shy brothers, brave mothers with two children in tow and five more at home, and physically disabled adults wheel their way through our now plentifully stocked pantry shelves. I watched weary eyes light up, cheerful banter take place between those still waiting to walk through and young voices squeal in excitement as they reached for a brightly packaged box of Cheerios. For the first time in several months, I watched as families were able to leave Gano’s food pantry with a healthy array of meal options to provide for those at home: soup, rice, beans, canned vegetables, peanut butter, pasta, macaroni and cheese, microwave dinners, baking items, cereal, condiments, crackers and more.
Thank you, Adam and all those who gave, for sharing an abundance with us and for serving as a reminder to MCH staff and client alike that God’s fullness truly arrives when most needed.
To read about more opportunities to connect with the weekly service we provide our community through two food pantries and a clothing closet, look here: http://www.missioncenters.org/foodandclothing.html.