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Churches’ food drive bears fruit, and births a challenge

Evangelism committees and home mission groups sometimes struggle with how can we show God’s love to our neighbors. Members of five Reformed churches in Dunnville, Ontario gave a great example of God’s love in action recently, when they organized their first annual “OneChurch Food Drive.” They collected 8,900 pounds of donated groceries, along with over $2,600 in cash and checks for their local Salvation Army food bank.

Bruce DeBoer, one of the drive’s organizers, was inspired after meeting Mike Bosveld, who had helped organize food drives among churches in the greater Brantford area. Bruce and his wife Helena jumped in with both feet, calling the home mission committees of other Reformed churches locally, who in turn organized volunteers from their membership. Food banks often experience lighter donations in the summer months, but there remains a need among many of our neighbors who have a hard time getting by without some supplemental groceries.

Members from Canadian Reformed Churches at Attercliffe, Dunnville East, and Dunnville West, and members from the Dunnville URC and the Dunnville CRC, knocked on almost every door in town – nearly 2,700 in total! – a week ahead of the drive. They were letting families know that they would be back to collect any donations on the scheduled Saturday. If they couldn’t speak to the residents, they left a flyer letting folks know about the drive, and what kind of items would be helpful to donate.

Word quickly spread about this initiative, helped by articles in the local newspaper. On the morning of the drive, 85 volunteers, including little ones and seniors, met to divide up the city section by section, and make their way out to collect from their neighbors. Volunteers were amazed at the generosity of the community: they gathered enough food and donations to supply the needs of the food bank for over two months!

The Food Bank’s Facebook page effusively thanked the volunteers:

“We are speechless right now!… To our beautiful town and community, because of your generosity, the amazing volunteers and organizers of the First Annual OneChurch Food Drive, we now have 8,873 pounds of food and $2,685 raised. This I believe has beat our old record! We are so blessed and so thankful for everyone who showed up today and those who organized this amazing event!”

Besides collecting food and funds, the Food Drive gave Christians an opportunity to interact with their neighbors and establish some relationships, while raising awareness about Reformed churches as a place where God’s people are called to show love and mercy to one another and their neighbors. Door knockers were also able to find out where there were people who could use help down the road, perhaps with a meal at Thanksgiving, or with a friendly knock on the door to check up on them.

“This could be a very powerful way for our churches across the country to make an impact on their communities,” said DeBoer, who hopes that this can become an annual event for Dunnville. He and Helena have volunteered to assist the first group in each province and state that would like to do a food drive. “We can host their inaugural meeting (virtual or in person), and work with them to make a successful drive in their community. We can share access to a ‘do’s and don’ts’ handbook with examples of effective flyers, lists of what kinds of items to collect, and other best practices, to ensure a successful event. Our only ask in return is that anyone helped pays it forward by encouraging other communities around them to do likewise!”

Bruce DeBoer can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (416) 660-3172.

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