by Mitch Hotts/MacombDaily.com
MOUNT CLEMENS, MI – A steady stream of visitors drove through the parking lot of St. Peter Catholic Church in downtown Mount Clemens on Monday evening to receive a free Thanksgiving meal.
In years past, that form of outreach fed about 250 families. For this year, that figure has grown to about three times that size, primarily due to the pandemic and its ripple impact it has had on local families.
"We started with the idea that we would help people get a meal that normally could not get one," said Chad Nelson, pastor of Journey Church in Mount Clemens. "I think we took that for granted: Three or four families weren't going to be able to enjoy a meal. That started it."
Journey Church hooked up with Lakepointe Church to launch a Thanksgiving meal giveaway event. They found the need for holiday meals kept growing. They invited other churches to participate.
And before you knew it, nine churches in total were part of the project with a focus on 750 families.
"We felt called to something, to help everyone," Nelson said.
"We knew that there were people within the church community who needed help, but we decided to focus on people outside the church and found the need was even greater. We all are on journey. We know that every person counts. And we've been lucky enough to receive some help in providing a holiday meal."
In addition to Lakepointe and Journey, other churches included St. Peter, New Anthem Church, Lord of the Harvest Church, Christ Community Church, Renewal Church, Fellowship Chapel Church and the Church at Clawson were on board.
They teamed up with sponsors willing to donate resources to a worthy cause. The sponsors included Thrivent, Meijer, Two Men & A Truck, American Speedy Printing, Wellcare, and Hungry for A Day.
The sponsors provided the meals --which included turkey, macaroni and cheese, yams, green beans, corn, potatoes and more -- and the churches provided the manpower. In all, there were about 150 people helping out making sure it all ran smoothly.
Scott Blanchard of Lakepointe Church wants to make next year's meals "even bigger and better." He said next year the goal will be 1,000 meals.
"There are a lot of people hurting because of COVID-19," he said. "People are struggling. They have no money because of unemployment. The big question we must ask ourselves is what does love look like? What does it require of us to do? If we all do something, this will be a better place."