Budget cuts at a local food bank sparked a Harlem man's idea to inspire others to be good Samaritans.
The Rev. Roger Vest, pastor of Harlem United Methodist Church, read an article earlier this year in The Augusta Chronicle about the Golden Harvest Food Bank's $150,000 budget deficit. He learned that if the financial shortfall continues, 1,100 seniors could be dropped from the food bank's Brown Bag program.
"I was sad how 1,100 people would be cut off," Vest said. "My next thought was wondering what they are going to do. At one point as I was reading, two things happened. One was, it just suddenly hit me not what they were going to do, but what I am going to do. To use my faith language, the Holy Spirit touched my heart and turned it on me and said, 'What are you going to do about this?"'
The Brown Bag program provides a 17-pound bag of staple foods monthly to 3,876 seniors. The seniors live in 34 sites in 17 counties and are, on average, 70 years old and have a monthly income of $600.
In the newspaper article, Mike Firmin, the food bank's executive director, said it costs the agency $5 a month, or $60 a year, to provide the bags.
Kimberly Carter (from left), Grady Vest and Jordan Carter were among the children from Harlem United Methodist Church
who made gingerbread men to send with a thank- you note to
people who contributed to the church's new food program.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"All of a sudden, it hit me. I can't do all 1,100, but I can do one," Vest said.
Neighbor2Neighbor: Each One - Feed One was born.
"He came to us with the idea," said Tammy Jackson, the food bank's outreach manager. "It is a great program, and he has been a great volunteer. (Without the program), well, that means (some seniors) are going to have to skip more meals during the month and not have enough food for the entire month."
Vest's vision for the program is that families can adopt a senior, possibly one for each member of the family. Vest, his wife, Bonnie, and their two children have adopted four people and placed four gingerbread men on the refrigerator as a reminder.
Every person donating funds to the program will receive a thank-you note and a gingerbread man decorated by children from Vest's Church of Girls Inc.
"Each one is decorated as a individual. To me, that represents that neighbor who is being fed," Vest said. "Each one is different, but each one is special. So we have got four on our refrigerator at home. Every time I see the gingerbread men, it reminds me of our commitment that because we were able to give up a night out, one of our neighbors is going to be able to eat."
Children from Harlem United Methodist Church made
gingerbread men to send with a thank- you note to
people who contributed to the Neighbor2 Neighbor: Each One - Feed One program.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Vest's congregation has raised more than $3,000 and adopted about 50 people.
"Rev. Vest said it well when he told me for the price of a movie ticket, you can help seniors in need," Jackson said. "It is a good way of putting it in perspective."
Care to help?
To make a donation or adopt a senior, contact Tammy Jackson at 736-1199 or mail the donation to Golden Harvest Food Bank, 3310 Commerce Drive, Augusta, GA 30909.
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