Dowagiac church dedicates food pantry to longtime member
Published 8:00 am Thursday, May 1, 2014
When Lill Easton was told that the members of First Christian Church wanted to throw a belated 90th birthday party for her, she expected to receive a cake, a few cards and maybe a couple of presents during the bash.
She didn’t expect to be handed a metal nameplate to the church’s food pantry, which would henceforth bear her name.
On Saturday, the church officially declared that its pantry would be called “Lill Easton House.” The church’s fellowship hall was packed with Easton’s family and friends who surprised her with the announcement.
“I didn’t know they thought so much of me,” Easton said, following the presentation.
Easton had been a member of the First Christian Church for more than 60 years, serving a number of roles, including as treasurer. When the church’s office was converted into the “Feed My Sheep” food pantry 10 years ago, Easton was the main person who took charge of maintaining and distributing its wares, according to Barbara Wegner, vice chair of the church board.
“She is one of those people who, when she sees a need, she just jumps in and helps,” Wegner said.
However, Easton left the church to move in with her daughter, Martha, in Grand Rapids. After the longtime volunteer turned 90 in January, Wegner and others with the church decided that they would throw a party for her and deliver the surprise that they were renaming the pantry after her.
“We let her move away without honoring her service to the church,” Wegner said.
Since her departure, Wegner and Suzy Krueger, another church member, have taken over Easton’s place in the pantry.
“We stepped up when we saw the need,” Wegner said. “When she left, we were determined that we weren’t going to let the pantry fail.”
The pantry, which is stocked with items donated from the community, hands out food to local families. Wegner said one month the church donated food to 32 families.
The church has also hosted a number of mobile food pantries from Feeding America, brought into the area by the ACTION ministry network, Wegner said.
“One truck was out of food after only an hour and five minutes,” she said.
With the name of the church’s food pantry now bearing the name of its biggest supporter, Wegner and other volunteers are that much more determined to keep donations coming along.
“[Easton] set a really good foundation that we are trying to follow,” Wegner said.