On Saturday, April 6th, 2019 youth from 6th through 12th grade participated in Feed the Need, a program which brought together four Lutheran congregations in the Virginia Synod for worship, learning, and service. Grace Evangelical Lutheran in Winchester, Bethel Evangelical Lutheran in Winchester, Reformation Lutheran in New Market, and Emanuel Lutheran in Woodstock all took part in Feed the Need, with 30 youth and 13 adults going out into their communities to feed the needs of their community and each other.
After gathering at Grace Lutheran in Winchester youth and adults broke off to work in teams at five different service learning sites around the region. During this time the youth and adults were able to better learn about their communities. Together they worked to aid organizations like Bright Futures, a non-profit organization that helps schools in the Frederick and Winchester area connect student needs with resources within the community. The teams came together to clean and organize the bus garage at Bright Futures, helping the organization to continue their support of school children in the area.
The teams also had the opportunity to work with Steve Jennings, the Executive Director of Teens Opposing Poverty (TOP). TOP’s mission is to empower youth to meet physical needs and offer hope, friendship, opportunity and encouragement to the poor, not just as an annual event, but as a regular part of their lives. Steve is well connected to communities that are impacted by hunger, homelessness, and poverty across Virginia and helped the Feed the Need teams provide aid with congregational donations of toiletries, paper products, and canned goods to apartments and hotels where people are currently living below the poverty line. Throughout these service learning opportunities, the teams learned about the needs and gifts in their communities and fed the needs of our community and each other.
The day concluded with all the teams gathering back together at Grace Lutheran in Winchester. All together they created banners to bring to their home congregations featuring painted handprints of everyone who participated in the program. The group also had a chance to worship as a group with a service led by Pastor Jonathan Boyton and Pastor Nate Robinson. Pastor Nate’s reflection during the service shared that, Feed the Need showed that our hearts and hands provided hope both for the ones we served, and for those giving aid. Feed the Need provided an incredible opportunity for youth and adults to live out the call to care and serve our neighbors!