Feeding the Hungry in Central PA
This month I’d like to highlight one of our ministries, a story that doesn’t often get told because of the behind-the-scenes nature of the work. However, this work and the individuals who perform it have a big impact on our guests, individuals and families in Harrisburg, and thousands in rural areas of surrounding counties.
Bethesda Mission Outreach exists to support partner non-profit organizations in the Central PA region working toward the shared goal of providing food to families and individuals in need. This ministry started in 1996 when we began renting 5,000 sq. ft. out of Mission Central’s warehouse in Mechanicsburg, where we are still located.
It all happens through the sharing of excess products. Corporate companies, as well as other nonprofit organizations, have excess goods that they donate to Bethesda. Our Outreach staff sorts the donations and sets aside what can be used within our organization. Next, we have 80-85 volunteers per month come in and pack over 1,400 food bags, which are distributed to rural Central PA—Perry, Dauphin, Juniata, and Cumberland counties. Any products that can’t be used for either of those purposes is shared with food banks, churches, or other partner organizations.
The efforts in Mechanicsburg are headed by Dave Hicks, Bethesda’s Director of Outreach Ministries, along with Rick Shumaker, Warehouse Lead. They are assisted by a volunteer administrative assistant, Cindy Snyder.
“I’ve been able to see God do things on His time,” said Dave. “Before I took the job, I thought timing was based on my ability to organize, schedule, or produce to meet goals. Since I took this job, I’ve learned that God shows up on His time, and I have very little to do with it.”
Recently, we saw God work through the provision of hams that were needed for Christmas dinners. It was a few days before Christmas, and we still needed 300 hams. Dave sent an urgent request to Water Street Mission in Lancaster, and 30 minutes later, Water Street received an offer for 300 donated hams. Water Street determined they didn’t need the hams, so we were able to pick up and have them in time for Christmas—what impeccable timing!
God’s excesses are so big that we can work together to feed those in need in our community. There is enough to go around, which is why we are happy to partner and share with both local and national organizations. Some of our major partners are Blessings of Hope in Leola, Feed the Children, and Convoy of Hope. Locally, we work with Water Street Mission in Lancaster, LifePath Christian Ministries in York, Central PA Food Bank, and many others.
Our Outreach staff play a huge role in being able to provide 220,000 pounds of food per month to those in need. They play a behind-the-scenes role and often don’t get to see the end result of their work—people receiving food.
“I come to work every day because I want the single mom to be able to put enough food on the table that she can sleep well without the stress of having enough groceries, children to be able to learn in school and chase dreams with a full stomach, and the homeless veteran to be able to focus on his/her mental health upon returning home without the distraction of wondering where their next meal will come from,” said Dave.
In Luke 14, Jesus says, “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
If you’re inspired by what you’ve read here, we would love to have you partner with Bethesda Mission Outreach! Here are some ways you can help:
- Give—Please donate individually or through church drives. Cleaning supplies/paper products are helpful year round.
- Serve—Please consider becoming a driver. CDL and non CDL drivers are always needed Monday through Friday 8 am to 12 pm.
- Love—Author Bob Goff wrote a book called “Love Does,” in it he says you don’t need to travel around the world to make a difference, simply cross the street. Help us serve our neighbors in Central Pennsylvania by fighting hunger and homelessness.
Thank you for your continued support of Bethesda Mission. We are blessed by our community of donors. May God bless you and your family!
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven.
If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.
And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
John 6:51 (ESV)
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