Churches help spread hope during the holidays and beyond

Churches help spread hope during the holidays and beyond

Several area churches did their part during the holiday season to spread cheer to people throughout the community.

The Coshocton Christian Tabernacle received a donation of toys from the 1485th National Guard Transportation Company that were left over from its Christmas party and given to the church to bless others in the community with them. On Dec. 22 they invited families, organizations and other churches to come look through the items.

One of the churches that benefited from the Tabernacle and the National Guard’s generosity was the Conesville United Methodist Church.

“We were able to help dozens of families, and I feel this blessed the community,” Pastor Jeff Calkins said.

The River Church in Coshocton also assisted families during the Christmas season with its Love Our City Toy Drive.

“The Lord laid on our hearts to have a toy drive. And what better way to show some love than to help out the wonderful kids of your city?” Bryan Casey from the church said. “Watching our community donate to the toy drive, we are honored to be a part of it and work for the kingdom of God.”

Conesville Wesleyan Church has been looking for ways to serve the community, and right before Christmas, it decided to partner with the Center of Hope in Knox County. According to the organization’s website at www.hopeinohio.org, the goal of the organization is to address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of economically disadvantaged people in rural Ohio.

“Our district superintendent was telling me about what they are doing, and I went to visit with them,” Pastor Donnis Meek said. “They were going to do a food distribution called the Season of Hope, and I said we would like to be part of that.”

Meek and his church members only had about a week to get the information out about the food distribution and how to register, but it still ended up serving between 40 and 50 families.

“For our first one, we were very impressed with the response,” Meek said. “I think all but one family that registered showed. We had a number of families that heard about it but weren’t registered come too. We had about 15 extra bags made up so we could help those families. It was pretty awesome.”

The bags had a variety of items including a turkey, fruit, canned goods and dairy products.

“Hopefully, we will be able to start having weekly distributions of groceries, but we have to have the volunteers to help,” Meek said. “Until we get it running the way it’s supposed to, we might have to start off with once a month or every other week. The goal though would be to do it every week.”

They are hoping to decide by the end of January how to proceed with the Center of Hope.

“Our vision is to serve people out of the building beside our church,” Meek said. “We want to call it the Hope Shack, but we are going to have to do some work to it. Until then we would just serve out of the front of the church.”

There are several reasons why Meek likes the Center of Hope.

“Their whole premise is to work with rural families who are hardworking but still need help making it from paycheck to paycheck,” he said. “One way they feel they can help relieve some stress is to help with groceries. When people register, they then have someone from the care team call to qualify them. The groceries are then distributed by family size, and they also try to assess your dietary needs so they know if you are gluten free or have diabetes. Another thing they are trying to work on is hot meals or prepared meals that can be distributed.”

For more on how to seek assistance from the Center of Hope or how to assist them with their mission, visit www.hopeinohio.org.