by Dr. Roscoe Shields, Jr

Maranatha SDA Church in Tuscaloosa Alabama launched an initiative called Tuscaloosa Feeding 500 on Saturday, March 28.  Our goal was to maximize our efforts while minimizing our exposure (connect without contact). Divided into three teams of volunteers, we organized a method of “Pick it Up,” “Pack it up,” “Pass it out.”

Tuscaloosa Feeding 500 was a collaborative effort of our Community Service and Hospitality Leaders.  Rebecca Billingsley, our Community Service Leader, was responsible for the first phase, pick it up.  She worked diligently to prepare a menu for the initiative.  She and four volunteers shopped for the items (food, paper bags, gloves, and mask) brought them to the church.

In our second phase of “Pack it up,” Dr. Karen Moore, our Hospitality Leader, and a team of 6 volunteers prepared the sandwiches on Saturday morning. Each sandwich was carefully packed alongside the other food and necessities. Saturday afternoon, our “Pass it out” phase began. The pastor organized a team for registration and distribution while the Community Service team set up tables, filled the sacks with nonperishable food (i.e., Nutri-grain bars, juice boxes, etc…), and organized them (100 bags per table). The registration data was collected at the entrance of the church’s parking lot while the people held their IDs up to their vehicle windows. The vehicles proceeded to the mid-point of the parking lot to receive their sacks, then exited the parking lot on the other side.

We maintained our social distancing by having each car enter on one side of the parking lot and exit the other. As we distributed the sack lunches to each vehicle, they pass through as a “Grab and Go.” As each bag of goodness was distributed, each car was filled with smiles and joy. We thank God for allowing us to meet the needs of our community during this time.