The Finneytown School District’s monthly food stipend for families was at risk of going to waste because of COVID-19 precautions. Pastor Tim Dunn, lead minister at Lifespring Christian Church, encouraged his church to step up. Now they regularly help coordinate the food distribution.

It is quite the production. Even with a team of volunteers, it takes hours to bag the meals.

They line up six tables with six separate volunteers. Six cars pull in and each volunteer loads a car with food bags. Every family gets one cold bag of food per person, which contains 5 meals. They also receive one hot bag of food for the day. When the volunteers are done loading, their hands go up. The cars leave, and six more pull in.

The system is incredibly successful with long lines every week. The first week, they gave out 6,500 meals. The second, it was nearly 6,800 meals.

The school has encouraged families to come even if they don’t have a significant financial burden. This is in part to help other families feel more comfortable to ask for help.

Most of the parents come in with their kids, so it’s also an opportunity for everyone to see their community. Even though the volunteers wear gloves and masks, they make it fun. They dress up in t-rex costumes and keep music blaring. More than just receiving aid, it bonds the community as they make the kids laugh and let parents know they’re not alone.

Lifespring has also hosted two days of a food and supply drive to build up local pantries. Cars pull up next to the church, and volunteers wearing gloves and masks unload the vehicle. To minimize any potential crowding, they have a staggered drop off. The huge smiles when people see friends they haven’t seen in weeks proves the initiatives are much more than simple food drives. They’re community drives.

The only problem with their work is that it is limited. Unless someone is directly connected to the church, they’re not getting help. With a total of 17 schools represented through the church members, Pastor Dunn has encouraged each member to reach out to their local school district.

“The conversation then turns to empowerment, and how they can best serve.”

This is especially important as the districts represent different socioeconomic statuses with different needs. For the church members, it simply means contacting their teachers and seeing who needs supplies. One school needed chromebooks for their kids, while others need to know who to support.

They all have one thing in common, however. They all need encouragement and appreciation.

Pastor Dunn’s wife is a part of Finneytown’s PTA appreciation group, and helps coordinate their Compassion Ministry. Lifespring members encourage their teachers through gift cards and notes of appreciation. The video production team is even helping each class send their teachers a message.

Whether food distribution, teacher appreciation, or even hosting a blood drive, Lifespring has relied on their previous relationships within their community to find and serve needs. And serve they do.

What You Can Do

  • Check in with your teachers! They’re missing “their” kids and have had to climb proverbial mountains to transition their classrooms and teaching styles. Send them encouragement and appreciation through the mail, a text message, or even video chat.
  • No kids in school? It’s a safe bet you know someone who works at a school. Give them a shout out today, or reach out to your old teachers.
  • Pastors – check in with your local school to see if they need help serving their families. Many church members want to help, but may not know how.
  • The best way you can locally engage with Lifespring is to email them at [email protected] and they will find the best spot to plug you in.
  • You can donate to Lifespring by texting GIVE2LSCC to 77977 and mark it to go to their Compassion Ministry or mailing it to 1373 W. Galbraith Rd., Cincinnati, Ohio 45231

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