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March 7, 2012

2

Day 15: $12.25

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

Ever wonder what it was like to be hungry?

Seriously – have you ever thought about what it would be like not to have food on your table for dinner?

In our Bergen County community, my questions are not hypothetical – they are reality for so many families that live near us. As a Board member of Family Promise of Bergen County, I hear the stories of single moms and their children who have lost their homes and are living in shelters, being shuffled around throughout our county each night just to find a place to lay their heads and get a good meal. Family Promise works hard to ensure that homeless families with children receive the care and support they need to find a place to live and get back on their feet.

Yet, the stories I hear go beyond this example. Families who still have places to live, but because of the loss of a paycheck or rising rents, they are forced to do without. Even after cutting out cell phones and cable television, bills still pile up. And when the middle to the end of the month arrives — when all their money is gone — so is their food. Families like this are more common in our suburban community than anyone would like to admit.

For years, New Milford’s only food pantry was at Ascension Roman Catholic Church. They have a list of families an arm-length long, families struggling to put a meal on their tables. Ascension has been a blessing to our community every time they fill a bag of groceries and hand it to a mom or dad who are fighting each day to stretch their few dollars just a little further.

Last year, Saint Matthew’s started down a path to open a Food Pantry here on Center Street. After a long time of planning and stocking and reaching out for advice and guidance, we opened our doors last month. Emotionally, it is hard to imagine the hardship that families go through when loved ones are out of a job or medical bills pile up so high, you can’t see over them. In February, this small Lutheran congregation on Center Street took a faith-step in trying to help.

Of course, our great struggle is going to be keeping our shelves stocked as our family list grows, but our Pantry Team is confident that with prayers and the support of not only the saints here at Saint Matthew’s, but also our brothers and sisters in Christ in our community, we will continue to do what our Lord Jesus calls on His people to do — to show mercy and care for others.

This Lent, I am asking the people of Saint Matthew’s and our friends throughout our region to join us as we take a kind of challenge to Live to Christ. I am asking you to set aside a quarter a day, from Ash Wednesday to April 7 (the day before Easter), and then on Easter morning throw a buck in for a grand total of $12.25. Come to church on Easter morning and bring this special donation for our food pantry as we work hard to show love and care and mercy to those in our community who need to see a little love.

You don’t have to set aside coins — if you want, you can send a check to our church office (225 Center Street, New MIlford, New Jersey 07646), or you can come to church and charge your donation on your credit or debit card. Right now, we do not have a donation button on the church website (but I am working on it).

However, in whatever way you can help, please consider doing so. Pray over it. Ask our Father for guidance.

But all I ask is that you consider helping families in our community.

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