Back Thousands to receive food for the holidays from Brentwood Baptist
December 15th, 2011
Back in October, Community Missions Minister Becky Gross began the detailed process of assessing needs in the community and evaluating our involvement in the Christmas Food Baskets service project. What she discovered was the increase from last year in families praying they'd have food for the holidays.
Last year, Brentwood Baptist members went above and beyond the call to provide 450 baskets for families in Middle Tennessee. This year, they were challenged to provide 600 and, once again, exceeded all expectations.
Starting November 6, members were released to purchase 45-dollar baskets in preparation for a day of packing and distribution on Saturday, December 10. Becky said, "Our members gave more than we even asked. In November, a woman came up to our table in the Atrium and handed me her check to purchase a basket. She said, 'It's important for me to do this because I remember being hungry as a child. I know what that's like.'"
Against the cold bite of winter, more than 500 volunteers braved the 30-degree weather to pack and load in record time. An additional 325 volunteers distributed the baskets to families in Hendersonville, Franklin, Primm Springs, Brentwood, Thompson's Station, Antioch, College Grove, Columbia, Fairview, Hermitage, Madison, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Nolensville, Old Hickory, and Spring Hill.
"There never seems to be a shortage of funds or manpower," Becky said. "I get to have a front row seat to see all this church is capable of. The questions I get asked most is, 'What else can I do? How else can I serve?' We're so blessed with generous givers and amazing volunteers."
This year's baskets, packed with extra items, contained a Brentwood Baptist Christmas CD, an invitation to Brentwood Baptist Christmas Eve services, a hand-made Christmas card made by children in our church, a soup kit from the Children's Ministry, and food items including: mashed potatoes, stuffing, flour, sugar, corn meal, vegetable oil, rice, chicken broth, green beans, corn, fruit cocktail, Jell-O, a large turkey, a carton of milk, a pound of butter, a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, and a bag of apples.
Recipients were determined based on the client lists of Youth Encouragement Services and our Hope for the World Missions Offering ministry partners, including Christian Women's Job Corp, Welcome Home Ministries, Graceworks, Brentwood Baptist Deaf Church, Hope Clinic for Women, Brentwood Baptist Hispanic Ministry, and more.
According to Becky, one volunteer and her children went to deliver a food basket to one woman in need. They prayed with her, wished her a Merry Christmas, and jumped in the car to make their next delivery when they noticed the second recipient had the same address as the first. Wondering if they'd made a mistake, they went back to the first location and inquired.
Becky said, "The recipient said, 'Oh, that's my cousin. I'll go with you and show you where she lives.' As they traveled to the next house, the Brentwood Baptist volunteer discovered this woman was newly widowed. She'd lost her husband just one month before and they were able to minister to her. It was a day for volunteers to bless others and interact with people they might not ordinarily come in contact with."
It's overwhelming to imagine, but each year at this time, Brentwood Baptist members literally help to feed thousands upon thousands of people all across Middle Tennessee. Some minister face-to-face while others share the gospel of good news and Christ's love with people they'll never even meet—all because they're part of this body of believers.
Even now, the gifts keep coming in, and the surplus is being used to provide even more Christmas baskets to people in this area. Just this week, the Missions Ministry sent food and Kroger gift cards to Room in the Inn, Set Free Nashville, Men of Valor, and The Next Door.
Becky said, "Because our members have been so generous and keep giving, we're now calling these ministries and asking how we can give food to the families they work with. The Set Free guys were so excited to get to have a meal and also invite the people in their community to come and eat with them."
"Every year, I see our members get excited about printing out directions to the homes of the recipients. I hear their phone calls made to hundreds of households who'll receive a basket. I see the red noses and ears of the volunteers who've stood out in the cold for three hours loading frozen turkeys, gallons of milk, and eggs into cars. On Saturday, December 10, I woke up and prayed, 'Lord, let this day glorify You. Let this day be all about You.' And it was. I hope and pray that families all across our area are blessed this year. I know I sure was—just by being a part of this."
Story by Kaylan Christopher, Staff Writer