Ask any volunteer who has served with us at Saturday Servings, and they'll likely tell you that they feel they were blessed more by the experience than those they met and served. That's because volunteering at these events is far more than slinging hash or getting your halo shined. And most folks realize that the moment they step out of their comfort zones...praying with strangers, holding hands with skin colors unlike your own, hugging the unbathed, trading your shoes for someone's with holes, or biting your tongue instead of complaining about how miserably hot, cold, or wet you are when you know the person across from you whose styrofoam plate you're loading up with spaghetti doesn't have a home to escape the weather like you will once the last soul is served. Serve with us often, and you'll begin to experience and appreciate all that God is doing through and for our guests and our volunteers.
These events are held every Saturday...regardless of weather. Setup begins at 12:30, and we serve from 1:00 until 3:00, or until we run out of meals and groceries.
In 2016, volunteers from our partner churches and businesses purchased, prepared and served 3,639 delicious hot meals. In 2017, 6,469 lunches were served. In 2018, they served 11,565 lunches. In 2019, 10,739 lunches were served. And in 2020, 12,954 lunches were served, despite pausing operations for three weeks when the pandemic first struck. 2021 began with 372 meals being served on January 2nd, and gave us 35 record crowds, including two Saturdays in February over 500! We ended 2021 serving 306 neighbors on Christmas Day, bringing our total tally to 16,005 lunches served in 2021. In 2022, we saw 44 record guest tallies, served 21,301 lunches, and finished the year averaging 394 guests! As of July 24, 2023, we are averaging 524 guests, have served 15,192 lunches, and have twice served crowds of over 700 people!
Our Mo Hope Mobile Pantry used to provide each member of a household one days' worth of food...2 cans of proteins, 2 cans of veggies, 1 can of fruit, and 1 starch. In response to the Covid-19 virus, we have increased to two days' worth of food. That's 10 cans per person per week at $1 per can. When available, we provide fresh fruit, veggies, and bread. In 2018, over 57,800 cans of food were distributed. And in 2019, we distributed over 53,600 cans. In 2020, we shifted from counting cans of food to counting meals that can be prepared with the food we distribute. That equated to 60,504 meals in 2020. The increase in the amount of food we provide has been made possible in part because of our Neighborhood Canned Food Drive program, created in response to impact on grocery prices and availability our neighbors are experiencing because of the pandemic. In 2021, we distributed enough groceries to prepare 96,030 healthy meals. In 2022, that number jumped to 126,156 meals! As of July 24, 2023, we have provided enough groceries to prepare 91,222 meals!
Our Mo Hope Mobile Pantry also progvides toiletries to our guests as most of those items can't be purchased using SNAP funds. Prior to COVID, we provided each member of a household a bag of toiletries intended to last a week. Each bag contained a roll of toilet paper, tooth brush, toothpaste, comb, deodorant, soap, shampoo, razor, and lip balm. In 2018, over 11,000 toiletry bags were distributed. And in 2019, over 10,700 bags were distributed. In response to COVID and social distancing challenges, we chose to cease pre-bagging hygiene items, and now offer primarily toilet paper, with other items provided upon request.
Servings are held at the Brookhill Azalea Shopping Center 5300 Chamberlayne Rd. Across the parking lot from Food Lion.
Saturday Servings Summary 7/22/23…
It takes a tremendous effort and many hands to feed lunch to the huge crowds of hungry neighbors we serve each week. Our friends from Fairmount Christian Church did a great job of it again today. It is wonderful to see the connections that have been made over the years between so many we serve and those serving from our partner churches like Fairmount.
Thanks to our friends from Bank of America and other volunteers who keep returning to help at our clothing ministry. Thanks to our medical team at our Ask the Nurse table for the care you provide so many including me. Thanks to our homeless services team for your empathy and patience. Thanks to our prayer team at the Let’s Pray table for being a conduit and listening.
It also takes a tremendous effort and many hands to provide groceries to the hundreds of neighbors we’re serving each week. We thank God for our donors, volunteers, staff, and board. We thank you, all!
“S” shared that she had too many needs to list when she asked for prayer last week, so she offered up a “general prayer” because God already knew. She said He was doing things in her life all week after that prayer. After several years of homelessness, God answered that prayer with a furnished room in a quiet home. A stranger on the bus told her about it. She moves in Monday! Praise God!
“D” shared that he tested positive for HIV this week after being bitten while being attacked a few weeks ago. This, on top of the severe health issues he’s been grappling with, is more than he can handle. He says he still trusts God and is praying, but he’s scared.
Please lift “S”, “D”, and all of our struggling neighbors in your prayers. We served 702 of them this afternoon.
At our Ask the Nurse table, Nurse Barbara and her team of nurses, pharmacists, and students from area medical, pharmacy, and nursing schools provide free health screenings, wound care, and answers to questions about medical problems our friends are experiencing. They frequently have to refer friends via ambulance to Emergency Rooms due to their blood pressure and blood sugar readings.
Our Bible Study has been paused since the arrival of COVID-19. We aim to change that. Stay tuned for more details!
Bill the Bike Man and his comrades, Rod and Vernon, run our onsite Bike Shop. Together, they've dovetailed their passion for bicycles and for sharing the Gospel into an amazing ministry that provides donated bikes that they refurbish and present as reliable transportation to those on a long waiting list. They also make repairs and tune the bikes they gift. In the two years since the Bike Shop began, over 300 bikes have been gifted!
Guest birthdays on the last Saturday of every month. Kathie the Cupcake Lady bakes delicious cupcakes and distributes them to everyone whose birthday was in the current month. For many, this is the only time their birthday is acknowledged. Especially if they're homeless.
David oversees our Clothing ministry which was paused due to COVID, but recently resumed operations with a modified approach and offering. We no longer display clothing like in a bazaar, but instead determine a guest's clothing needs and get it from labeled bins in the van if we have it. We provide ONLY NEW footwear and NEW essential clothing like socks, underwear, jeans, and t-shirts.
Our Intake Manager, Maureen, manages our emergency shelter program and provides resources for housing lists, shelter access, and mental health services. She also assists guest applying for replacement photo IDs, birth certificates, and Social Security cards.
Prayer Warriors from partner churches staff our Let's Pray table, and provide personal prayer with guests who request it. New Bibles are also available. If you are interested in serving as a Prayer Warrior, please contact us!
Betty Jo, our Director of Pantry Operations oversees an incredible team of volunteers who rarely miss a Saturday serving guests at our Mobile Pantry, where they receive free canned goods, fresh fruits & veggies, fresh bread, and toiletries. For many, the food they receive means not having to miss meals.
Department of Medical Assistance Services is one of the agencies we partner with to bring access to things like Medicaid and other benefits to those we serve.
Sherry & Stewart