Church congregation reaches out to a community in need

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2006

St. Timothy’s name means to &uot;Honor God.&uot; And for a local church that bears his name, that’s exactly what the congregation is doing through their foodbank.

St. Timothy Baptist Church 1613 E. Washington St., provides food twice each month to those in need.

On the second Thursday a hot meal is served. And, according to volunteer Yvonne Harden, who is also the wife of the church pastor, Thomas Harden Jr., they are serving between 300 and 400 people each time. Unfortunately, she said, the number has been growing of late and will probably continue upward.

Email newsletter signup

On the third Thursday, Harden and other members of the church prepare bags of food, stuffed primarily with USDA foodstuffs for those who stop by.

There are never any questions asked, although some cannot receive the USDA items due to their income. When that happens, Harden said they pull from their emergency food closet inside the church so that nobody ever goes away hungry.

The church members have been providing this service to the community since 1985. Harden has been doing it for nearly one year now.

Iva Deloatch said they have about a half dozen young men and women who help out when they are out of school.

The food for the bank comes from a number of sources, including local donations from Farm Fresh and Chick-fil-A and donations from across the community. Deloatch said they have even received money from people in other countries who have found out about the program and donated.

Harden said in the year she has volunteered, not only has she seen the number of recipients grow, she has also seen something else that concerns her – more men, especially those in their late teens and early 20s.

She said she isn’t sure if that is happening because of a lack of jobs or motivation on their part, but they always try to encourage them to do better.

The services provided by the church and its volunteers are not limited to food.

They also help families whose sole bread winner is out of work, those who have been forced from their homes due to fire or other disasters, or those who just can’t afford to pay their bills.

While Harden and the others offer all of this assistance to those in need, the one thing they don’t do is preach to them.

&uot;If they want that, it’s here,&uot; she said.

Sometimes that request goes even farther than the confines of the church.

Deloatch said it is not unusual for them to go to somebody’s home and visit and pray with them.

St. Timothy Baptist isn’t the only church involved in this program. They are a partner with several other congregations, including Capernaum Seventh Day, East End Baptist, First Baptist, Liberty Baptist, Oak Grove Baptist, Oxford United Methodist, St. Paul’s Episcopal, Suffolk Christian, Tabernacle Christian and Westminster Reformed Presbyterian.

They also work closely with the Salvation Army and the Suffolk Social Services, both of which often refer families to the church for help.

&uot;We’re like one big family,&uot; said Deloatch, of their relationship with the other churches and the people in the community.&uot;

One example of the group reaching out happened this last week when they came in contact with the family of Winston Carr. Carr died over the weekend after being shot in the early morning hours Sunday.

With no insurance, the family was going to have a difficult time. Harden said once the word went out, they were able to raise nearly $1,500 in just a few short minutes.

Pastor Harden also donated suits, shirts and ties for the men in the Carr family to wear at the funeral. Following that service, the church will cook and serve a dinner for the family.

Harden said while the increase in numbers of those coming to the meals and food give-aways concern her, what she worries about even more is the church’s ability to keep providing the food and supplies.

&uot;You wouldn’t believe the people who need help,&uot; she said, adding that hunger and need know no racial lines. They serve anybody and everybody who walks through their door.

&uot;We only have so much and we only get so much help,&uot; she said.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the program should call the church at 934-1742, which is also the number to call if anyone needs help from the church members.

Donations may also be sent through the mail to St. Timothy Baptist Church Foodbank, 1613 E. Washington St., Suffolk, Va. 23434. Note that the check is for the foodbank.