Showing love with bread

Published 9:28 pm Monday, February 14, 2011

I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at Community Baptist Church last Saturday.

I had heard the church gives away free bread every first and third Saturday, and I wanted to see what it was all about. I set up an appointment to be there at 11 a.m. and showed up in the middle of a soaking rainstorm.

In my head — though I had no prior experience with anyone at this church to make me think this way — I envisioned that each person who came for bread would get maybe one or two loaves of week-old store-brand bread. However, after sloshing my way through the parking lot and going into the church, I found an entirely different situation.

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Spread out on rows of tables were several bins of bread, each holding a dozen or more fresh bread products — not just loaves of bread but bagels, English muffins, hot dog and hamburger buns, of all varieties — white, wheat, rye and more.

When Sandy Shepard, who came up with the idea for the bread giveaway with her husband, told me that each family received a whole bin, I was amazed.

Granted, those who have smaller families are asked to share or freeze what they don’t use immediately. And the hope is that the people who come get the free bread are the ones who truly need it.

But it’s all on the honor system. The church doesn’t collect income information or anything else to determine any sort of “eligibility.”

“I don’t think anybody is going to go and get bread if they don’t need it,” Shepard said to me. “And if they do, then shame on them.”

Though the church’s pastor is on hand during the giveaway, and there are religious pamphlets available, the church doesn’t push religious talk on anybody in order to get free bread. Nobody is forced to take the pamphlets or listen to a presentation to get the bread. It’s just a simple act of love from a church body to people in the community who are in need.

My visit to this church last Saturday encouraged me at the start of what would turn out to be a long day. As I left, one church member even gave me an umbrella escort back to my car.

Anybody who’s in need is encouraged to drop by the church, 3520 Pruden Blvd., every first and third Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Any changes are posted on Craigslist and in the ad in the Suffolk News-Herald, or you can call 605-8659 to find out if it’s still going on.

And anybody who is not in need, consider volunteering to help with this important ministry. You can call the number above to find out how you can help.