Paying It Forward Through Loudoun Hunger Relief

April 27, 2017

That Galilee should be invested in hunger relief is no surprise. Churches have been involved in feeding programs ever since Jesus Christ fed a multitude with five loaves and two fish. At Galilee, we’re proud of running one of the largest Backpack Buddies programs in the county, supporting Love Your Neighbor, Feed Your Neighbor and Scouting for Food each year, and, of course, collecting donations directly for Leesburg’s food pantry, Loudoun Hunger Relief.

Last Sunday, grocery bags and shopping lists were distributed for a special fresh food initiative. Loudoun Hunger Relief wants to increase the percentage of healthy, nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables distributed to food insecure families. Kathy Miller, a member of Galilee since 2008, approached the pulpit to explain what the idea was and why it was important to her.

Matt and Kathi Miller.

“When I was young,” said Kathi, “My family received food assistance through the St. Vincent de Paul Society. I thought catsup sandwiches were normal. While as a youngster I wasn’t really aware, my mother was only able to feed us because of the kindness of the people in that organization and those who donated to it.” 

“No one wants a child to go hungry and Backpack Buddies does a wonderful job of addressing the needs of school children. Loudoun Hunger Relief helps to feed the rest of that child’s family. Because my family was helped, I want to pay it forward, and this ministry lets me do that.”

Galilee and Loudoun Hunger Relief (formerly Loudoun Interfaith) partner to alleviate hunger in our community. While we’ve collected thousands of tons of food over the years, our reliance on shelf-stable, high carbohydrate, high fat, or high sodium foods can create or exacerbate health problems.

We are grateful for all donations received, but if we can increase the percentage of fresh food donated, we can improve the health of those who need our help. We can continue doing the Lord’s work (Matthew 25:35-40), only we can do it better.

A new fresh food collection point will stand in Galilee’s lobby this Sunday.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is what I learned in Catholic school,” says Kathi Miller. “To be honest, I didn’t really understand that verse until I was teaching it to my son. I didn’t get how radical it is to put it into practice. So simple, so hard to consistently do. Putting another before yourself means not cutting corners, but doing the best for them.”

The Millers do the best for others in lots of ways.

“When we joined Galilee, I joined the choir (though I can’t read music) and used my ballet background to choreograph, dance, and even direct holiday productions. I enjoyed those because my talents were being used for the glory of God. I’ve done odds and ends in service—providing meals for the sick, being on the prayer chain (I’m so blessed to be on it), landscaping on cleanup days, standing as Scout Sunday liaison, and other duties as assigned!  I follow Galilee’s Director of Serve, Rebecca Makowski—I want to be like her when I grow up!”

“My husband Matt is on the offerings counting team. He participates in the  Men’s Group, particularly if there is a Men’s Night Out or a fishing trip. He volunteers to setup or clean up after church events, helps with landscaping days, food donation deliveries, and very much enjoys Trunk or Treat.”

Matt and Kathi enjoy some beach time with their son, Brad.

“When our son Brad was young, he taught Sunday School with me. Now he’s involved with the Youth Group and is going through Confirmation class. He started scouts in Pack 956 at Galilee, and helps us with landscaping days or any other event that involves physical activity.”

“I continue to live spiritually through the choir—they are my small group. Last year I started working with Youth Group volunteers while the church leadership searches for a new Family Ministry director.  It’s been a great experience, totally outside my area of expertise. But God has led us all. I have come to care for the youth involved in this ministry. They are a great group of kids!”

It is through being part of a caring community that Kathy and her family make their offering to God. It isn’t just about “doing good” or showing up when called. God wants us to be present for each other in all situations, including the harrowing ones. That was proved to Kathi when she and Matt endured the loss of their adult son, Derek, in 2013.

“While sad, a favorite memory of Galilee is the love and care we received when our son died. People came to my house to set up a reception, serve food, and pray with us. I’ll never, ever forget them and the love and support we were blessed with.”

Being shown so much love, of course Kathi and her family want to give back. For the past two and a half years, Kathi has led and coordinated Galilee’s partnership with Loudoun Hunger Relief. If, like Kathi, you’re moved to give back by paying God’s love forward, you can help.

 


 

HOW TO HELP

If you didn’t pick up a grocery bag, don’t worry. Here is the list of fresh foods that LHR needs each month. Please purchase some of these fresh items and bring them to Galilee on the LAST SUNDAY of the month. This is an ongoing program, so while we want tons of fresh fruits and vegetables this Sunday, April 30, we also want fresh fruit brought in on the last Sunday of each coming month. 

Non-perishable items like peanut butter, canned soap and beans, canned fruits and vegetables, cereal, etc are always welcome and can be brought into church at any time. We collect these items on clearly labeled shelves in the original wing of the church.