I expect most of you are aware of the origination of the Peoria Youth Pantry. It began 3 years ago while I was standing in Pastor Pat’s office and a gal came in asking for monetary help feeding local teens. Being new to PPC myself this just touched my heart and as they say the rest is history. Dick and I worked out of our garage for awhile and then when PPC got on the band wagon, we got the storage cupboard in the Social Hall. Back then we served about 10-12 kids a week with weekend food packs of 10 items.
As of this week we are serving 50 teens per week with 18 food items in 4 schools and the Peoria Community Center. In addition to food we now offer monthly toiletries, refurbished bikes when we can find them, new and gently used clothes and shoes, graduation and Christmas gifts and through partners, future educational possibilities and jobs. We have been helped greatly by the church Mission committee, the members of the congregation, the Deacons (pay for more rented storage space); Pastor Pat, Eve’s Place, Heritage Presbyterian Church, VFW, community donations and corporate grants. We need to grow because the problem of teen hunger in our community and state continues to grow. 1 in 4 kids in Arizona go to bed hungry and do poorly in school because they are hungry.
All of this history is to explain why we need to grow more. We have been offered a partnership with Heritage Presbyterian Church Congregation. They are doing fund raisers and food drives for the Pantry. Our partnership with Eve’s Place has flourished and we now can offer more services because of them.
We are going to have a new Name and FACEBOOK page: Helping At Risk Teens Pantry; HART PANTRY. The page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/HARTPantry. This is necessary because I found that folks looking to help kids will search the WEB for “at risk teens” We need to be there. Secondly Eve’s Place has offered the Pantry free storage and room to pack bags at their new location in Sun City; no financial strings attached. That means the Deacon’s donation, if they so choose, can now go to food purchases instead of storage fees. In addition to these situations we can save considerable dollars, hundreds in a calendar year, if we can be sales tax exempt. Since our church is really not in a financial position to allow for any growth and since we are actually spending considerable money for sales tax (the PANTRY cannot be exempt as an arm of the church) and feel that storage we now have and share with the church on the 3rd floor of the storage facility is still not adequate and is costly, I have applied for independent 501(c) (3) status as a Faith Based charitable community outreach program; all costs to apply for this corporation at my expense.
To do this makes financial sense; for the Pantry and for Peoria Presbyterian Church. I might add that this change has been endorsed by both the Finance Committee and The Session. My hope is that the HART Pantry will remain a mission of PPC just as Habitat and Agua Fria are. I see no change in the congregation’s role as they care for the kids and gift accordingly. My present staff is aware of this change and understands the positive impact this will have on our efforts. I would be happy to continue monthly reporting to the Session and will do likewise for Heritage PC.
I have been told that if you are passionate about something, you must follow GOD’s lead and “if you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.” I hope and pray my church will walk with me.
If you have questions or concerns or if you want to join or support us, please call me, 252 259-5331; or email me, email@example.com; Soon you will be able to find up to date information on our FACEBOOK page as well.
A SHOW OF HANDS OR VOLUNTEERING
During some sleepless minutes of the night, I got to thinking about Pastor Pat’s sermon about figs. All I remember is her asking for a show of hands if we had eaten figs. DO NOT tell her my last statement, because I want her to think I remember every word of her sermon all year long. I did not raise my hand, but I love figs.
Being in the army, I learned not to volunteer for anything, with some exceptions. In the first few day of my military life, we were asked, “Who knows how to drive?” Hands went up thinking of a soft job of driving a jeep. This was followed up with “Come with me and drive this wheel barrow filled with dirt today.” Or, “Who can type?” Hands went up again. “Come with me because you are the type to clean latrines today.” Again, looking for an easy job was the thinking.
When I started Basic Training, we had new wall lockers to put together with 1/4” bolts. I bought a wrench to fit the bolts, thinking I could get my locker put together and tightened. I would be out of there, as we were on our own time in the evening. WRONG! “Hey trooper, the one with a wrench, you are to stay and tighten the bolts since you have a wrench. The rest of you are dismissed.”
Now, do you see why I hesitate to volunteer unless, it is for a good deed like helping someone in need?
My next article will be about the fig tree in the back yard of the church along with the fig trees on the Johnson farm in earlier years. I do not want to bore you with too much history, which to some who may be thinking it does not amount to “a hill of beans”. So, if this your feeling, please let me know and I can easily take care of the problem.
After the tree is down and the Christmas decorations are stashed away until the next year, there is a feeling of loneliness and emptiness. The church sanctuary is so bare. Is it empty and calling to worshipers to bring new enthusiasm to re-dress its spaces? I miss the cheery red and green finery and the twinkling lights trimming my house outside and the tree inside. When all is packed away in boxes, the church and house seem so hollow. The hustle and bustle have dissipated and a new year has begun.
Winter is finally here in Arizona–a reprieve from the 100+ degree nights and days and what seems to be a more restful pace. Some of us resort to relaxing with a book in an easy chair and enjoying a fire in the fireplace. We await the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, and a new calendar of celebrations to come. Winter is an ideal time to slow down and ponder what God in the heavens is planning for us in the near future. Is it a winter season in your life; a time of depression, loneliness, or being spiritually “on hold”? Do you wonder if your soul will ever thaw?
God is always present, waiting for us to approach God. You might feel like a dry spell has crept into your life and you would rather curl up and cry, rather than stand up and sing. This too, shall pass. When the winter season ends, you will be wiser, deeper and stronger. Psalm 115:12, 13-18, “The Lord remembers us and will bless us: he will bless those who fear the Lord-small and great alike. May the Lord make you increase, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to man. It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to silence; it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore. Praise the Lord.”
God has great plans for you in 2015. May they unfold in a delightful way as God blesses you to be a blessing to others. Happy New Year!
Thank you for your prayers and many acts of kindness throughout the year!