Jul 03, 2020 | St. Croix, US Virgin Islands |
The Cole Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sint Maarten recently hosted a community-wide food drive to assist dozens of families still struggling to cope with the effects of the pandemic. Church member volunteers gathered earlier in June to prepare the 125 hampers which included canned and dry goods, beverages, produce, cleaners, personal care and other items, organizers said.
“Many families have been struggling to cope with the emotional, mental and financial challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Denise Cornet, who leads the food drive project at the church’s Community Services department. Prior to the food drive, a community needs-assessment was done, which revealed the socio-economic level of the community and allowed the task force to determine where to concentrate their efforts, she explained.
Many lined up outside the church to pick up the hampers. Other boxes were delivered to homes in the community on June 15 and 16. “We had so many grateful recipients who expressed that the packages were a welcome relief to their family’s needs,” said Cornet.
Pastor Virgil Sams, who leads the congregation, said that church members are always willing to take part in impacting the community in need. “This was a compassionate response to a now-hurting community which, during times of prosperity, consistently contributed in the church’s annual ingathering campaign,” he said. The church collects donations from the community during an annual ingathering campaign, which are in turn used in local communities for disaster relief and other humanitarian projects, explained Sams.
During ingathering, members across the nine congregations on the island solicit financial support, while visiting and praying for people in the community, said Sams. “We showcase the humanitarian work of the church and we leave Christian literature, which is basically an outreach ministry with a difference.”
At the end of the food drive, Pastor Sams thanked volunteers and contributors for their time and effort and encouraged them to keep giving. Local businesses were thanked for their discounts on the goods purchased to help dozens of families.
The church is also engaged in counseling, visiting the sick and the elders in their homes or in hospitals, as well as nurturing community health, Sams said.