Food giveaway feeds 400 families; well-received as ‘a blessing’
by Lori Caldwell lcaldwell@post-trib | 648-3258 February 5, 2013 4:34PM
Liz Ultsch, right, helps pack bottled water into the worship area of New Beginnings Internatiional Outreach Ministry in Gary Tuesday Feb. 5, 2013. Ultsch joined other church members and volunteers in unload more than 28,000 pounds of food donated by Oklahoma-based Feed the Children. The food will help feed more than 400 families. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
At a glance
Feed The Children is a nonprofit that distributes food and other items to families through partnerships with churches, food pantries and soup kitchens. For more information, go online to www.feedthechildren.org.
Updated: March 7, 2013 6:39AM
GARY — Bundled against the cold, hundreds of Gary residents lined up on Broadway hours before the food giveaway began at noon Tuesday.
From senior citizens to young parents, recipients of the Feed the Children program waited patiently until doors at New Beginnings Outreach Ministry opened and members began handing out boxes of food, cleaning products and water.
“This year we will feed 400 families,” Pastor Chris Thorpe said as he watched people move through the line in the sanctuary of his church.
“We were going to do this outside, but with the weather, we decided to do it in here. It took us a little while to clear the space,” Thorpe said.
Even with the change in plans, workers had the process up and running before the scheduled start time.
“It’s a blessing,” Felicia Miller said as she waited her turn.
She learned of the program “from the church and word of mouth.” Anyone who wanted to get donations had to first obtain a voucher from New Beginnings.
Mary Jones, the pastor’s mother, and Tonya Wilcher, collected the blue tickets as people walked in the north door of the building. At the other end of line, they received a box of food items and a box of assorted personal hygiene and cleaning supplies, Thorpe said.
Thorpe’s wife, Carolyn, said the church provides food baskets at Thanksgiving. “But this is our first time with the February outreach,” she said.
The church organizes donation distributions at different times of the year and has worked with Feed the Children previously, Thorpe said.
Thorpe spoke to people as they passed through the line, but kept a watchful eye on the process. At one point, he stopped the lively gospel music that was playing in the background and told workers to separate the people with one ticket from those who brought extra tickets for other families.
“It’s getting confused. We’re going to run out too fast,” he said.
Curtis Jones helped by moving loaded handcarts outside to cars parked on Broadway and in a lot across the street. “This is a sign of the economy,” he said.