MUSCATINE, Iowa–In July, students in First Baptist Church’s youth group got to put some of the community service principals they had learned about into action by assisting the Muscatine Center for Social Action food pantry. Students worked together to hold a food drive in their congregation and to help Muscatine Center for Social Action distribute the food raised to see for themselves how they could make a difference in their own community.
John Hesseling, the youth group’s leader, explained that a recent lesson the group had studied as well as the church’s renewed focus on outreach made for the perfect time for the youth to help support Muscatine Center for Social Action and to lend some helping hands at the food pantry. He detailed: “We were working through a lesson about generosity and discussed doing a project that reinforced the idea. The first suggestion was holding a food drive. Our church has been focusing on outreach and we didn’t feel like just collecting food and delivering it to the food pantry met that mark. We wanted the youth to actually participate, being able to see and meet the people whose needs were being met.”
Once they had the plans for their project in place, students put out an announcement about their drive, helping members of their congregation understand their goal with the drive to both bring food to the food pantry and personally get it to people in need. The church got behind their efforts, donating a total of 600 pounds of food.
On July 18, the students brought their food to Muscatine Center for Social Action and helped them pack some of the non-perishable items into bags to prepare them for distribution the following day. Students returned the next morning to pass out the prepacked bags, along with fresh bread and milk, to people who came to the pantry to collect them. They also helped drivers get the bags of food they needed to drop off at the homes of people who could not attend the pantry in person. All together, the students served 93 families, or 192 people in total.
Because Muscatine Center for Social Action benefits greatly from the donations and help of volunteers, they felt deeply grateful for the support of First Baptist Church’s youth group. “This group was so attentive to the needs of our clients, all the while maintaining an atmosphere of positive energy,” shared Navi Pauley, Muscatine Center for Social Action’s food pantry coordinator. “It’s so exciting to see younger generations be so willing to meet the needs of our community with such enthusiasm.”
Hesseling felt pleased by how well students put their learning into practice, and hoped this practical lesson in generosity and volunteering would stay with them into the future. “I think it was very brave of the youth to participate in this event,” he observed. “We often don’t get personally involved in life, and I think the youth had an experience that hopefully taught them more about service and meeting the needs of others.”
Muscatine Center for Social Action always welcomes groups of volunteers and organizations to donate to their food pantry or to volunteer with distribution and other tasks. Anyone wanting to donate or volunteer should contact Resource Development Officer Nik Horn by calling 563-264-3278.