An unwanted visitor in Warren County seems to be unwilling to leave. That unwelcomed presence is poverty.
Central Church of Christ, which has been a source of help for struggling families and individuals for well over 150 years, is planning its annual Food and Raiment Day this Saturday, Nov. 17, as a counter attack on the economic suffering of as many as two-thirds of Warren County families.
“We’re offering a free lunch and all the clothing, coats, shoes and boots people need,” said Becky Wilmore, one of the organizers of the Thanksgiving-season, community-wide benefit. “Providing just one meal doesn’t answer the year-long food needs of our people, but we hope it serves as a signal that we care about them. It’s our way of offering a little hospitality as our neighbors and friends visit our clothing recycling center.”
Central Church will open its doors from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., to give away clothing and serve free soup, sandwiches and desserts at its fellowship hall.
“The Gospel record shows that Jesus Christ offered Himself in direct, personal service to people in need,” said Central elder Ken Smith. “Jesus talked about the Kingdom of Heaven, but He was also very deeply involved in the day-to-day struggles of people in the economic under-class. One of the major claims of Christianity is caring and responsibility for our suffering neighbors, and at this time in history – 2,000 years later – there are still a lot of them.”
The number of Warren County students qualifying for federally subsidized free- and reduced-priced school lunches ticked up 1 percent from last year, Tennessee Department of Education records show. Two-thirds of local students are eligible for those benefits, with only the remaining one-third standing outside the national poverty-assistance guidelines.
Central Church opens its food pantry and clothing outreach every Thursday morning. Over the last several months, demand for food has been at record levels, according to the church’s benevolence coordinator, Joe Braxton.
“We’re been sending out food boxes more than we ever have,” Braxton said. “People in our community are in need like they never have been before if you just look at the demand on our pantry.”
Added Wilmore, “We sense that many of the newcomers to our food assistance are in extreme need. We are seeing people we’ve never seen before. People are coming here who never would have thought they would be in a position of receiving charitable help.”
For more information on the Central Church of Christ Food and Raiment Day, call the church office at 473-6537.