FIRST PRESBYTERIAN, DELAND'S NEW HUNGER MINISTRY
Submitted by Carlyn Langell, Member, First Presbyterian Church of DeLand
First Presbyterian Church of DeLand holds fast to “Our Vision: To be a church fully engaged in Reaching Up, Reaching In, and Reaching Out.” Now, in keeping with that pledge, our Church has embarked on a quite exciting manifestation of reaching out to our community.
Under the leadership of Mary Beardall Hoffman, Moderator of Mission Outreach Team, some fifty volunteers responded to her call, “ALL HANDS ON DECK!” on February 6 to create a Food Distribution Drive-Thru to feed the hungry in DeLand. First, planners arranged a one-way and multi-lane approach into the Church parking lot area off roads surrounding the property, using seasoned volunteers to direct the traffic into and out of the distribution system. Publicity had informed the potential clients on their initial distanced approach while posted signs guided the nearby traffic. This succeeded well in providing over 700 boxes through the drive-through system.
Two weeks later on Saturday, February 20, a well-practiced repeat of the Food Distribution Drive-Thru used the tweeking of the first mission's few complications to refine the process. Again the Church volunteers supplied over 700 boxes but unfortunately had to turn away over fifty cars due to the response to and success of the previous event, boosted by generous coverage by our local newspaper, THE BEACON.
Offloading a truckload of over 700 boxes, Church men and woman of widely diverse ages then loaded two boxes for each family into car trunks and truck beds. Provided through the USDA's Farm to Families program, each of these boxes holds produce, dry goods, meat, eggs, and dairy.
The opportunity to really help our community, in this time of Pandemic with its disheartening effects on food insecure people due to unemployment, illness, separation, distancing, and hunger, came through a connection with the Society of St. Andrew. This faith-based and grassroots nonprofit combines its independent work with other stop-hunger groups when necessary to offset the real danger of food-deprivation.
First Presbyterian, DeLand now feels ultra “blessed to become a blessing” though the help of Central Florida Presbytery and its Hunger Action Advocate, Barbara Sayles. Through cooperation and connectivity with the presbytery, this ministry to the hungry of DeLand will continue with two more Food Distribution Drive-Thru's scheduled in March on Saturdays, the 6th and 20th, and hoped-for events in April and beyond.
First Presbyterian, DeLand certainly celebrates the joy of a path to “....Reaching Up, Reaching In, and Reaching Out”!