The generosity of the women of Turner Chapel AME Church is matched only by their creativity.
A community food drive Saturday saw the church ladies create and distribute 60 huge baskets of food and household supplies to families in the community — enough to feed over 360 people.
These were not your typical care packages. They were beautifully decorated, some with colorful paper and ribbon, others modeled after real-world items. There was one shaped like a woman in a pink gown, there were mini shopping carts and a laundry basket with a decorative cut-out paper clothesline complete with drying clothes wrapped around it. One basket was in the shape of a brick church complete with steeple and construction paper stained glass windows.
“We said we want to bless our neighbors, bless our community by creating food baskets to feed a family of six,” said Linda Pitts, the brains behind the operation and chair of the drive, which was called Women’s Day 2017. “We wanted to be creative. We made it competitive so they would get their competitive juices going … The women went to work. They got together with their ministries, as groups, sister to sister, and they created the baskets.”
One of those ministries was the Crimson and Cream Ladies of Turner Chapel AME Church. That is a community service group whose work includes awarding college scholarships to local students.
Member Gloria Joseph said the more than 50 ladies of the group were excited about participating in a project to help the community.
“We feel like that’s what we’re supposed to do, and it’s something that we always have done, so it comes naturally to us,” Joseph said. “Because we’re taught that church is outside the four walls. Church is a ministry to the world and is to help, to assist, to provide resources. To teach people how to fish, as it says in the Bible.”
Crimson and Cream’s basket was wrapped in red polka-dot plastic and ribbon — and it was loaded with enough treats to give the Easter Bunny a herniated disc.
“We have pasta, we have cereal, we have peanut butter, we have veggies, we have paper goods, plates and cups, we have canned meats, soup, biscuit mix, breakfast bars and gift cards along with it,” said Crimson and Cream member Keshine Good.
As stuffed as it was, Crimson and Cream’s basket was not the heaviest of the day. There were several full-sized laundry baskets filled with food, and one “basket” was actually a collapsible little red wagon large enough to comfortably hold two children.
Simply moving all of these baskets was a task unto itself, and the men of the church were happy to lend their muscles to the job. They lifted the packages onto dollies and wheeled them to two locations outside the church. On one side, families pulled their cars up and took their baskets home. On another side of the building, volunteers loaded up their own cars and took the packages out to the families who would receive them.
Faylua Core, co-chair of the church’s outreach hospitality committee said the families were selected from the women’s missionary database and called beforehand to see if they wanted a basket.
“It’s all about networking and doing God’s work, getting out there and bringing His people to Him is what our goal is,” Core said.
The MDJ tagged along with one group of volunteers as they delivered the little red wagon full of food and a large wicker basket to Yolanda Page of Marietta.
Erskin Harris, a trustee of the church, and Anthony Dear, a church steward, lifted the care packages carefully out of the back of an SUV and took them to Page’s doorstep.
“I was outdone,” Page said after the volunteers wheeled the tremendous wagon into her kitchen. “I wasn’t expecting anything like that. I was amazed. I was shocked … I just felt grateful.”
Volunteer Justine Bush, part of a sisters group within the church, said she was touched by the experience as well.
“I feel totally fulfilled,” Bush said after the delivery. “I feel that as servants of God, that we’ve seen Him in our actions today. I think that the family we met today was wonderful … Our hearts are just full right now.”