As I write this, Journey volunteers are passing out 500 red Journey Food Bank bags with fixin’s for Thanksgiving dinner so that Journey families, neighborhood families and other in need can have a Thanksgiving celebration like they may never have had before. The poultry, green beans casseroles with crusty onions on top, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie packed up last week and passed out today with a Bible Verse, a greeting from Journey Church and a prayer.
It developed in the mind of a young married Journey-ite with three small children, Deborah Pogue, who now lives with her husband, Jared, and family in Boise, Idaho. Genevieve LaHayn assisted with the launch.
If we all donate a little, we can feed a lot.
Within a year, the Food Bank was managed by one of the “day one” volunteers, Rebecca Daniels, who helps keep track of the food supply, the time of volunteers, the supplies needed and the flow of donations from Journey members, restaurants, Wal-Mart and the San Diego Food Bank, among other sources. Food is distributed three times a month to about 100-180 people each week to a long line of patient recipients speaking several languages, of all ages, health conditions. One day a month is a produce distribution.
“God called me to this close to six years go,” said Rebecca said, smile flashing. “There was no mistaking it was a matter of obedience for me to get involved, so I answered the call. I really liked the concept that Deborah had developed of gathering name and address data and including a prayer list collected from each person. Pastor David Merk is the pastor who oversees the operation of the Food Bank.
Tony Cincotta one of Journey’s most generous volunteers said he works with the Food Bank to show the love of God and his love for others in need. Bob Graham, another “day one” participant said, “Everyone likes to hang out with Tony, that’s why we are here. It’s just a good crew.”
Mix that sentiment with that of other fun people like Terry and Ron Perry and John Danielson, yet another “day one” worker, and you can see that the teasing and cordiality never stops. “I was looking for a volunteer activity that was a good fit for me,” he said. “This is mindless, but soulful work,” he said making the bag-filling circuit for about the 100th time.
Volunteers meet every Tuesday morning at the Food Bank building next to the Twice Treasured Thrift Store on the Journey campus. At that time the donations that have been collected during the week are sorted and stacked. Careful attention is made to the nutritional balance of the distribution bags so that the combination of vegetables and carbohydrates are evenly packed. Other needs of Food Bank participants are pasta, peanut butter, cereal, soup, granola bars and various staples. Diapers and baby food is also sorted and given on an as-needed basis.
The volunteers also prepare bags for homeless and/or hungry recipients who seek help during the week. The homeless bags contain easily opened and eaten finger foods. Family bags have more canned goods and meals for about five days. When there are enough volunteers on the spiritual care team, some are available at the end of every service to give out bags to people seeking food.
Additional volunteers include Becky Johnson and Teresa Johnson. At the Thanksgiving pack up, Shabrina Tuilesut helped out carrying the youngest Food Bank volunteer – three week-old Lacy. In all, there are about 25 volunteers needed to run the program, including Marie Culver who said, “When I started five years ago, it seemed like such a great plan. I’m thankful that I was called to this.”
Anne Judd may have summed it up best – “I love volunteering with the Food Bank. I started out wanting to help people, but I have been helped and have learned many spiritual lessons. I have received far more than I have given. It’s wonderful.”