Holland food drive-through serves more than 100 families

Published 9:53 pm Monday, April 20, 2020

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Even with rain coming down Saturday, the line of cars at the Holland Community Center snaked through the parking lot more than an hour before the Suffolk Christian Fellowship Center was scheduled to start its food drive-through.

They opened the site and ran through their supply of food, but not of people in need, so Suffolk Christian Fellowship volunteers went back for more and had another line of more than a dozen cars waiting, providing bags of food for about 135 households, according to its executive director, Lorna Slaughter.

“This community just happens to have a special place in the heart of Suffolk Christian,” said Deacon Sylvester Askins. “We had people coming to the church before to do this. I’m from this community. A couple of other people that are affiliated with this church are from this community. So it was really, really important that we come and have some kind of impact here.”

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Askins, who grew up in Holland and returned 10 years ago, said he and the rest of the fellowship have always had a heart for Holland, which made serving the community with a drive-through food pickup a natural thing to do.

“It’s just really, really rewarding to come back to my roots to be able to do something like this,” Askins said. “We know that, especially because of COVID-19, even before COVID-19, there was a need. Many times when things come out, they miss this community. They do Suffolk, they do Franklin, but this is in between the two. I would call this the lost community of Suffolk.”

He said many in the community, especially older residents, don’t have cars to get to places like downtown Suffolk or Franklin.

“So many times a lot of the services and resources don’t come out to this area,” Askins said, “so we really, really are grateful for this ministry as an outreach to be able to come back out here to be able and provide food for individuals who are in need, not only because of COVID-19, but also because there’s such a need.”

Volunteers came from the center and several churches, including Holland Baptist Church, East End Baptist Church, Suffolk Christian Church and Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church, participated.

That they were able to serve so many, and had to go back for more food shows how apparent the need is in rural communities like Holland.

“We’re just so fortunate that we have the resources,” Askins said. “We have the food through our partnership with Operation Blessing to be able to come out to this community.”

Askins said Suffolk Christian Fellowship wants to extend its reach into rural communities, and he expects it will be doing more events to help provide resources for them.

“It’s truly, truly a blessing. This is the work that God has given us, and we don’t try to just serve the downtown area,” Askins said. “There is such a need in rural communities all over the country to be able to access resources.”

The fact that they had served 100 families in the first hour, and that there were another 16 cars waiting for more than an hour for Suffolk Christian Fellowship volunteers to return, Askins said, speaks to the need in the Holland community. With the strong turnout and impact, he’s hopeful of coming back to Holland and other rural communities and serving even more people.

“It really just shows the need,” Askins said. “There’s other pockets like Carrsville, Whaleyville. Those kinds of areas don’t usually get the kind of resources that you would get in downtown Suffolk, or in Franklin.”