Church makes giving food fun

Sunday, November 4, 2012
The Rev. Karen Dumey, left, and Lynn Suhre help load more than 1,105 food items collected by members of Westminster Presbyterian Church for the FISH Volunteers food pantry. The church held a competition over the summer months for the food drive. (Fred Lynch)

The members of Westminster Presbyterian Church of Cape Girardeau spent the summer competing. The congregation was divided into two teams, and for nearly three months members would get points for collecting food items for the FISH food pantry, bringing a guest to church, volunteering at the church, volunteering in the community and other acts of service.

"Everybody gets involved," said member Carolyn Downs. "For our church, it feels like we are helping people in need and people appreciate extra help. We are a missional giving church, and FISH is one of our missions."

According to Karen Dumey, pastor for Westminster, more than 1,100 items were donated to the food pantry by the congregation.

"We have a competitive church that likes to outdo each other," Dumey said. "The importance is to get the congregation involved in helping the community."

Aside from the food items, Dumey said the congregation got outside the walls of the church and spent hours volunteering with community organizations such as the Cape Girardeau Senior Center, Salvation Army, Love In the Name of Christ, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Southeast Hospital, FISH and others.

"We collect food and make monetary donations for FISH all year long because it is such a needed ministry for the community," Dumey said.

She said this was Westminster's third year helping FISH with their summer competition. This year's theme was "The Hunger Games," base on the popular book series and motion picture.

According to Downs, Westminster collects food items for FISH every month. But the need is especially great in the summer, a time the food pantry tends to see donations drop off compared to other months.

"We like to do a push in the summer to keep collecting food," Downs said. "The importance is feeding hungry people who need help. This is a small thing we can do. We think it's needed. We're involved with missions in other states and abroad, but we really need to start at home."

Nancy Bray, a FISH volunteer, said it's neat to see churches make giving food fun.

"Westminster had a great competition," Bray said. "We were excited to see all the food they collected come in. It's great to see churches make it fun for their members and accomplish great things."

According to Bray, FISH's need for items has increased.

"On an average day, we'll get six to eight requests for food, but recently we've been running in the teens," Bray said. "Any of those orders could have been for a family of four or more, not just individuals."

Bray said that through September FISH has processed 1,034 requests for food, representing 2,650 people. In 2011, FISH filled 1,696 requests representing 3,637 people.

"We are expecting to help more," Bray said. "Requests will increase as the holidays approach. We are really dependent upon the community and appreciate donations and are constantly needing more."

FISH Volunteers of Cape Girardeau has been in the community since 1980. Thirteen churches organized to coordinate how to help people in need of food assistance in the city limits. Today FISH is supported by more churches, schools, organizations and community members.

The food pantry is entirely run by volunteers. Bray said there is always a big need for donations and volunteers to process orders for food and pack groceries.

FISH food pantry, 106 S. Sprigg St., is open from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. Anyone interested in volunteering or in need of assistance can call 334-0207. A photo identification and Social Security card are needed to pick up groceries. Individuals are helped on a rotational basis so FISH can assist as many people as possible.

apicar@semissourian.com

388-3648

Pertinent addresses: 1820 Perryville Road, Cape Girardeau; 106 S. Sprigg St.

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