Archived Story

There really is a free lunch, thanks to three area churches warning issued

Published 6:00am Saturday, September 19, 2009

By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star

When times are tough, there can never be too many stories of good will, and in Niles, three local churches have banded together to serve up a good portion of good will to their fellow community members in need.

Members of each of the Trinity Episcopal Church, Hope Community Church and First Presbyterian Church congregations in Niles have been serving up hot lunches to those in need on the first, second and third Saturday of each month.

Boo Smith, a member of Hope Community, said the idea came to band together, after the pastor at Hope held a leadership conference and was looking for a way to reach out to the community.

“What we wanted to do was offer food, prepared food,” Smith said.

At the time, Trinity Episcopal Church had already been serving lunches on the third Saturday of each month.

Smith said members of Hope went down to see what the congregation was doing.
“We went down and check it out and we thought, we can do this.”

So the congregation “started taking food in and offering lunch every second Saturday.”

First Presbyterian followed, offering up lunch on the first Saturday of each month.
Each lunch is served out of Trinity Episcopal Church, at 9 South Fourth Street.

There is no major food supplier. Each lunch is made from the congregation’s own contributions.

Volunteers head down to the church on Saturdays to help serve.

“Some people are in very, very much need,” Smith said. “And some people are just alone…” either way, they are grateful, she said, for the chance to enjoy a lunch with others.

“The first Saturday that our church brought in the lunch, we had five or six people,” Smith said. There were more volunteers than people to serve.

But word spread and the need grew.

Last Saturday, she said, “We had (about) 40-45 or more. It’s just really heartwarming.”

Smith praises a “good group of volunteers” and large congregations that help in putting lunch on each Saturday and said that they are well able to handle the crowd.

The lunch program is something that will continue “as long as it’s needed and as long as we can keep getting people to help.”

Smith added that she thinks the gesture “says something to the community” when they see that people are willing to offer a helping hand.

Lunch will be served today at Trinity Episcopal, from noon until 2 p.m.

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