Handing bags to the homeless and placing boxes in cars, members of Calvary Baptist Church performed one more act of Christian service this past weekend.
In its last initiative of a yearlong effort, volunteers from the Calvary Baptist Church congregation distributed 300 boxes to people in the Muslim, Hispanic and African American communities of Salt Lake City while also passing out 50 bags of food to individuals on the street Saturday.
Jackie Hesleph, the church’s director of evangelism and community outreach, said the goal was to give people a little extra food through the holiday season.
“Our idea was we know we can’t feed people for 12 weeks, but we can help them supplement their food supply so they can maybe have a little more in their pantry to help get them through several days,” Hesleph said.
To add a touch of holiday spirit, the church included a little Christmas candy bag, complete with a candy cane.
“I’m very proud of that candy cane,” Hesleph said.
The Dec. 19 distribution was the third of three food relief efforts in 2020 by Calvary Baptist Church designed to assist those in the congregation and community facing economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was organized under the leadership of the Rev. Oscar T. Moses, the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church.
The first initiative started last March when Calvary Baptist Church used donations from its members and friends in the community to provide boxes of food to those in need.
The second initiative took place during the summer months as Calvary Baptist Church collaborated with World Vision Food Distribution.
The third initiative involved grants offered to religious organizations by the state of Utah. The grants not only enabled the church to give out 1,500 boxes of food, but it also provided funds for educational and housing assistance.
Overall, Hesleph estimates the church gave away close to 4,000 boxes of food in 2020.
“This is first, an opportunity to allow our light to shine, to do the work of Christ ... to feed the hungry and carry out the work of the church,” Pastor Moses said. “I think one reason why Calvary has been blessed is that Calvary is a giving church. That’s the history even prior to me getting there. They are a giving church and always looking for ways to give and help people that are in distressed situations.”
Looking back, Hesleph acknowledged his faith in God as providence opened one door after another to help people get through this difficult year.
“Isn’t that wonderful? I just look back on those things and say, ‘Wow.’” he said. “We’re very happy with all three of the efforts we were able to do.”