Reaching out – The True Thanksgiving Spirit

DOWAGIAC, MI (December 2, 2010) – Federated Covenant Church delivered 300 meals to area low-income residents on Thanksgiving Day.

More than 50 volunteers from the church and community started to gather at the church at 8 a.m. Thursday to cook, pack, and deliver meals. “We had six roasters placed throughout the church to keep the turkey warm, including one in the back of the sanctuary,” says Pastor Jen Lowe.

Meals included turkey, rolls, green beans, yams, potatoes and gravy, cranberries and pumpkin pie. The donations of food and funds began coming in several weeks before the event.

“Sign-ups were put up in elderly and low-income housing so that anyone who needed a Thanksgiving meal could request one,” says Lowe.

“This was my first time serving meals on Thanksgiving Day,” says Lowe. “I had just finished eating with three others who also had volunteered here for the first time when the church phone rang. It was a gentleman calling to say thank you for making his day. He and his wife just wanted to let the church know they appreciated their meals.”

Homeless Find Shelter in Valley Covenant Sanctuary

EUGENE, OR – Valley Covenant Church made it possible for several dozen people to sleep inside when temperatures dropped into the upper 20s last week.

The congregation is one of five churches in the Egan Warming Center Coalition in Eugene, Oregon. The churches provide shelter to the single homeless population when temperatures drop below 30 degrees, which Pastor Steve Bilynskyj says is unusually cold and life threatening in the Pacific Northwest.

The church hosted as many as 59 men and women on Monday night and 80 people on Tuesday night, including two families with small children, Bilynskyj says. More people were served Wednesday night.

Mats and blankets filled the space where chairs normally sit for worship, with homeless guests sleeping under the cross at the front of the sanctuary.

About a dozen church volunteers joined with a number of people from the community and other churches to staff the Valley Covenant center and provide an evening sandwich, overnight shelter, and a morning cup of coffee and bagels, Bilynskyj says. Three shifts of volunteers staffed the warming center overnight.

Volunteers also helped guests find transportation to the site of a large community Thanksgiving meal.

Although the small church is running about $1,000 a month behind in expenses this year, “when the weather turns cold, we’re going to unlock the doors, turn the thermostat up, and trust God when the bill comes,” Bilynskyj says.

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