Written by Linda Cook, member at St. Mark Lutheran Church, Davenport
From a single can of green beans to shopping carts full of soup, pasta and cereal, I watched donations pour in from people out doing their weekend shopping at grocery stores in the Iowa Quad-City area. We had clear blue skies as our canopy for the food drive, as we joined nearly 10,000 other congregations for a weekend of serving our communities, sharing Christ’s love with our neighbors, and celebrating who we are as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
When I arrived at my assigned spot, other volunteers wearing bright yellow “God’s work. Our hands.” T-shirts were easy to spot. I joined them to collect food donations and hand out pamphlets about the food drive that was happening that day at Jeff’s Market, Blue Grass; four Hy-Vee stores; two Save-A-Lots; and a Fareway in Davenport. I was just one team member of eight teams of four or more volunteers at each supermarket. We positioned ourselves at the exit and entrance of each store as well as at the trucks, trailers, and at one location, school bus we were using to collect donations.
As we stood with our shopping carts we chatted with shoppers entering and exiting, and watched while the donations piled up. Many people also gave monetary donations – in fact, one cookie tin at a Davenport Hy-Vee store was filled to overflowing with cash and coins by 2 p.m.
Shoppers at some of the stores said they personally had taken advantage of a food pantry, so they wanted to give back. Three people, along with the family dog, pulled around in a van to unload the groceries they had bought for the cause, and thanked us for what we were doing.
Soon after a friend saw my Facebook post about being at the Rockingham Road site, he and his wife pulled up and said, “What do you need?” They proceeded into the store and came out with $40 worth of groceries, which they loaded into the pickup truck themselves. One shopper brought a cart to a truck where donations were being placed, and gave the entire cart of groceries – with the exception of one item – to the food drive.
Within the first two hours, vehicles started to fill. Volunteers began delivering the donations to the local food pantries where other volunteers began the sorting process. At St. Mark Lutheran Church in Davenport, where I am a member, volunteer and food pantry organizer Rich Ricketts was busy sorting through bags and boxes of donations. “I knew we would have a good turnout,” he said, while he briskly stacked cans and packages in categories so that the storage area of the church’s food pantry took on the look of a miniature grocery store.
The St. Mark pantry is one of the many food pantries in Bettendorf, Buffalo, Davenport, Wheatland, Durant, Eldridge and Princeton that will receive a portion of the overall donations to share with needy families.
At the end of the day the Quad-Cities community had donated nearly 4,000 food items and $900. The Rev. Dan Mixdorf, pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Eldridge, IA summed up the day by saying, “We rejoice that the community could see Lutherans being Christ in the world, responding to the needs of others – in this case, those who are hungry. The congregations in the Southeastern Iowa Synod are committed to working together to care for the needs of our community for the sake of the Gospel.”
At the end of the day it was a wonderful feeling knowing that I, along with other members of the Southeastern Iowa Synod, had come together to help feed hungry people through “God’s work. Our hands.” day of service.
View additional media coverage from Fox 18 News in the Quad Cities