Today I delivered some produce to the Food Pantry at the First United Methodist Church. While there I became aware of a story about the Food Pantry. My plan was to write a blog on the Children's Gardens involvement with growing food for the hungry. After seeing this story I have decided, with permission, to post this story. At a later time I will post the story of the Children's Gardens involvement.
I know this will take some time to read, but please do. This woman was amazing and totally gave of herself. As you read this, see what one committed woman did to make a difference. This is within all of us. What can you do?
|Phyllis and Wayne Gehres|
Phyllis began feeding the hungry children in Van Wert County in 1975 She volunteered her time to administer the Zook Fund, which was a fund established through the First United Methodist Church to assist the needy poor. Phyllis continued on in this capacity until 1981. The fund served fourteen families in 1975 gradually increasing to 169 families helped in 1980. She made the congregation aware of the need and the donations came in.
In 1981 Phyllis shared her concerns for the needy children with the United Methodist Cooperative Ministries. They agreed to establish a food pantry if Phyllis would volunteer to manage it. She agreed and the United Methodist Cooperative Food Pantry became a reality.
As you can imagine there was a lot of food to take in, shelve and dispense, and also food to purchase with donations received. From the beginning Phyllis established that 100% of the funds donated would be used for food. She, or other volunteers she recruited, would donate all other expenses. Phyllis and her husband, Wayne, would drive their station wagon to Toledo to buy food at a discount.
In 1989 The Food Pantry became an agency of the Lima Area Food Bank, currently known as the West Ohio Food Bank. Between October of' '89' and September '99' Phyllis, Wayne and their station wagon made over 100 trips to Lima for food, a distance of over seventy miles round trip. Phyllis arranged for our Food Pantry to become an agency of Second Harvest in 1999. Second Harvest now supplies some of our food at no cost to us.
Phyllis worked in the pantry through the days and shared her concerns for the needy with any group that would have her speak in the evenings. Because of her efforts we now regularly receive donations from several churches that are not a part of Cooperative Ministries; we also receive donations from our area businesses, schools, sororities, county employees and youth groups. The Scouts conduct our biggest food drive each year. They distribute bags one Saturday and the following Saturday pick them up full of food. Phyllis always managed to provide plenty of hot chocolate and cookies for the scouts.
Her efforts have resulted in making the Food Pantry a community effort to feed hungry children. It is truly a miracle.
Despite illnesses, which have seriously affected both Wayne and herself, Phyllis remained active in the Food Pantry until April 2002. Over the past 27 years she has contributed large amounts of time and money to feed the hungry. Phyllis and Wayne are of modest means and her contributions remind me of Luke 21:1-4.
It would have been easy for Phyllis to become discouraged by the immense task of trying to feed all the hungry children in the world but her philosophy was much the same as Mother Teresa's, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love."Each child fed is one child that won't go to bed hungry.
I soon will be posting what we are doing at the Children's Garden to help........Louise.