Providing food a blessing for volunteers

Published 9:06 am Thursday, March 31, 2022

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Craig Wiley’s smile says it all.

A volunteer with Fresh Hope, the retired salesman picks up donations from grocery stores and delivers groceries to some homes.

“I have never felt so connected to God as I do when I am able to provide meals and deliver groceries to my neighbors who may be going through a hard time. Serving like this and meeting so many nice people makes retirement worthwhile,” he said.

Fresh Hope is neighbors serving neighbors in Davie County who are experiencing food insecurity. Meals are shared, or a box of groceries and a warm smile are delivered.

New  volunteers, Shana and Richard Bowles, learned about Fresh Hope from Darren Crotts, pastor at Smith Grove UMC.  They had been looking for an opportunity to volunteer together and that would be somewhat flexible with their schedules.

After picking up the donations from Lowes Foods Bermuda Run, Richard commented how good he felt that this food was not going to be thrown out, that it was going to people in need. He said it made him feel a lot better about the grocery store; the employees in the bakery, deli, meat department and produce are all so happy to donate the food.

“Trish in receiving is genuinely interested in who is getting the food and how we are preparing it,” he said. “There are so many caring interactions and we see that the team members at Lowes are delighted to know that the food they are giving us is feeding our community.”

Meats, produce, bread and pastries as well as a hot meal are available weekly at The Bridge at 197 Main in Cooleemee.

Crotts, pastor and volunteer at the Bridge, shared this story.

Last week, they learned even more about one of the regular clients from his neighbor. Over the course of each Thursday’s meal service, volunteers pray and talk with those who drop by. As they continue to build relationships around food, God continues to inspire our team and those we serve.

Last week, a neighbor near the church campus walked up to us to say, “Thank You” for the food last week. Since we did not normally see them at our meals on Thursdays, we asked him politely to tell us why thanks was being offered. “The meatloaf you guys made was great,” they said. Since we had not served meatloaf recently and feeling a bit confused by the comment, we then asked, “What meatloaf?” What we experienced next was a Divine moment in the making.  We soon learned that a Thursday night client was using the fresh produce, frozen meats, cheeses, and breads to prepare meals for neighbors in Cooleemee. Rather than keeping the food for themselves, meals were being prepared and delivered each week to more than a dozen people in town. This is a demonstration of the multiplying power of God in our midst. I remain amazed at the continual potential for my own and very personal transformation as part of this effort in Cooleemee.  Bellies and spirits are being filled…..with the love of Christ.

The partnership with local churches and non profits has been so inspiring.  One gentleman shared, “Our church may not be growing in numbers, but we are growing in Spirit.”

Fresh Hope invites anyone to join in the Joy and the Smiles!  Opportunities vary and we can work with a lot of different schedules.  On the job training and orientation for new volunteers.  Slicing and dicing, deliveries to families, local grocery store pick ups, social media, and even pot washing!  For more information please call Julia at 336 413-2701 or Julie at 336 978-4186