Back in November I received an email from Adrian Collins, pastor of St. Joseph Island Free Methodist Church, asking if I, “Would you have any interest in a story about a rural church collecting quite a bit of food for their local food bank.” The following is said story.
For those of you unfamiliar with St. Joseph Island, here is what Wikipedia has to say about it, “St. Joseph Island is located in northern Ontario in northwestern Lake Huron. At 365 km2, it is the second largest island on Lake Huron, following Manitoulin Island. St. Joseph Island had a year-round population of 1,844 in 2011. It’s appeal as a tourist destination has contributed to a culture that mixes its rural charm with a lively arts scene.”
Adrian describes St. Joseph Island as, “A very rural area. Lots of land. More deer than people. ”
St. Joseph Island FMC is a rural church with an average Sunday attendance of under 100 people. Adrian and his wife Cindy, volunteer at the local food bank, “This past year there has been a greater need for food. The number of families coming to the food bank has doubled over the last year and the resources have been dwindling. And with more money going into heating their homes in the winter, families have had to take that money from the food budget.”
So the church decided to have a food drive. Each family was asked to bring a food item to church each Sunday from Canadian Thanksgiving to American Thanksgiving. The kids would go out into the congregation and collect the food and stack it on the stairs at the front of the church.
The first couple of weeks, they collected a bit of food. Then Adrian noticed that families started bringing in grocery bags of food. The food really started to stack up. Momentum was building. About half way through the food drive, the owner of the local food market contacted Adrian, “He was very moved by the amount of food this small community was collecting and he was moved by the Spirit of God to match anything that was collected during the food drive.”
When folks heard that their efforts would be doubled, the food really started to roll in. By American Thanksgiving the church had collected over 600 food items which when matched resulted in over 1300 food items being donated to the local food bank.
The impact was felt by all, “It was an amazing outpouring of generosity of God’s people. We felt overwhelmed by the response. What started as one family bringing a can of soup a week turned into this great blessing. We are a small rural church but when we all work together what an impact it can have. If we all do a little bit, we can make a big difference in our community.”