Groups unite to provide 50 families food

Posted: 6/1/2017

A box of food could not have come at a better time for Tammy and David Gilliam of Grainger County. They were expecting their grandchildren later that day, and the food was a saving grace that could feed the Tennessee family all weekend.

Tammy and David were just one of 50 families who received a special delivery from the Glenmary Group Volunteer Program this year. Blessed Trinity Cluster (Churches) in Manchester, Iowa, donated $1,600 to the Maynardville and Rutledge missions for community outreach, specifically for commodities. For the last several years, the cluster has supported the missions, giving a yearly donation specifically for food boxes. This year was the most generous.

Glenmary volunteers spent one day shopping for food and supplemented their purchases with items from the Hands of Christ Food Pantry, sponsored by Rutledge Baptist Church, Rutledge United Methodist Church and Glenmary’s St. John Paul II mission.

Then, the volunteers assembled the boxes, including care packages from St. Ann Catholic School in Hamilton, Ohio. Families at St. Ann created bags of toiletries and snacks with a rosary for mission families. Each box received at least one necessity and one snack bag.

One volunteer group drove around the county to homes of Appalachian families the missions regularly serve, while another group concentrated on Central Point Mobile Home Park, a community of mostly Hispanic migrant workers.

The community has a camp each summer called Camp Fiesta for the children in the mobile home park. This year, the Northern Kentucky University chapter of Theta Phi Alpha raised money for the camp and donated $1,200 to the effort. Three members of NKU’s chapter traveled to Joppa Mountain to help assemble and deliver the boxes to the children they benefited.

“Going up to houses of people I didn’t know, I was nervous at first, because I was out of my comfort zone,” said Bailey Privett, a sophomore elementary education major. “But I realized how much of an impact it made. I have loved being here. It was hard work, but it was worth it.”

While Bailey toured Central Point, her sorority sister Mason Walthall, a junior accounting major at NKU, visited Lawrence Fanney with Toppa Joppa Mountain Manager Adam Donovan. When Lawrence needed back surgery, he had to leave his job. He could no longer fix his home or mow his lawn, and he had no family in the area to support him. He got by, but he said the help from Toppa Joppa volunteers has been invaluable.

While the sorority sisters did not get to speak with many of the families individually, seeing how their donation was making a difference was especially meaningful to the NKU students. Glenmary is their national philanthropy. When they heard about the chance to visit the mission, they jumped at the opportunity, said Megan Bosma, a sophomore psychology major.

“The experience has been hard to explain,” Megan said. “It is such a simple thing to us, we can go to the store and get whatever we want. But the people here were so appreciative for the food. You could see it in their faces. You always hear about poverty in America, but to actually see it is different. It is amazing.”

This story originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of the Boost-A-Month Club newsletter.