King's Community Serves the City During Blizzard
A blizzard can stop a lot of things from happening. But it can't stop everything.
On the night of Jan. 22, snow began to fall on New York City. The next morning, residents woke up to find the city covered. By the end of the day, more than two feet of snow had fallen, nearly equaling the record for snowfall in the city since 1869. Non-emergency vehicles were banned from the roads at 2:30 p.m. and exterior subway lines were shut down at 4 p.m.
But the storm, though formidable, was no match for the King's community. Throughout the day, King's students journeyed out into the tempest to volunteer with New York Gospel Ministries and The Bowery Mission for the second annual King’s Day of Service.
From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Jan. 23, King's students, staff and faculty came in and out of Manor Community Church—the church with whom New York Gospel Ministries partners and hosts food pantry services three times per week—to serve. Volunteers shoveled snow, unloaded and sorted food, moved books and furniture, and cleaned the building.
Much of the work was a continuation of the work done last year at the first Day of Service, as well as work done since then by volunteers from the houses of Queen Elizabeth I and Ronald Reagan, who are official ministry partners with NYGM. Both houses plan to continue sending volunteers throughout the semester.
“Ideally, we want to have somebody here almost every day from The King’s College. If not, hopefully at least once a week we’ll have a group of people come help,” said Annette Turnbaugh ('17), a junior in the house of Queen Elizabeth I.
“Sometimes it’s harder to rally just four people to come help on a weekend. That’s why I think King’s Day of Service is a great idea,” Turnbaugh continued.
City Engagement Coordinator Davis Campbell ('16) was responsible for planning and overseeing the King’s Day of Service. His responsibilities during the day included sending emails, making Facebook posts to let students know the event was still on and keeping track of volunteers.
He could not have done it without the help of his team, however, which included Hannah Gulledge ('18), Darien Olesen ('16), Matt Contreras ('17) and Sadie Elliott ('18).
One man who came into the church to pick up food stopped to talk to the volunteers.
“If no one else thanks you, I will,” he told students moving books and other items to the basement for renovation.
“It was nice to hear that our efforts were appreciated and meant something,” said Addison Huntington-Bugg (’18), a sophomore in the house of Clara Barton who came out to help.
Every week, Manor Community Church fills the carts of more than 500 people with food donated from local grocery stores. These carts are taken home and shared with other households to feed an estimated 4,000 people who might very well go hungry otherwise. In 2015, the pantry had over 20,000 visits.
The recipients of these carts are given more than food, however.
“At the end of the day, it’s about making disciples for the glory of God,” said Andy Woodard, pastor at Manor and a director at NYGM.
With each boxful, pantry attendees are given a Christian message, one of hope and unconditional love. Recipients are invited to stay for a worship service with singing, fellowship and a sermon.
“I think the most rewarding aspect is watching people having pressing needs met in their life,” said Galen Balinski, Director of Advancement for NYGM and also a pastor at Manor. “That they’re finding Christian love, and what I see as people of the community following the command to love their neighbor—that’s the most rewarding thing to see.”
In addition to feeding the local community, Manor is able to share donated food with eight other organizations and non-profits throughout the five boroughs as well as New Jersey.
“The number of people who walk past these front doors in an hour—it’s not like that any other place,” said Woodard. “What happens here affects the world.”
The fact that the weather didn’t deter people from coming to pick up food on Saturday demonstrates the dire need in the community.
“When it’s wind-chill factor 8 degrees and people still come, that’s when you know it’s a serious need,” said Woodard. “On Tuesday, we had people standing in the back waiting for food.”
Woodard has been a pastor at Manor since August 2014 and loves the opportunity the pantry ministry provides to share his faith.
“It allows people to hear the Gospel for the first time when they would never walk in the door of a normal church,” Woodard said. “It combines good works with good news and provides those kinds of opportunities to give people a second chance to show them Christ.”
Meanwhile, at The Bowery Mission, a total of about 30 volunteers came and went from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., cooking and serving food for more than 750 people. In addition to feeding the hungry, volunteers also organized the Mission’s food pantry and clothing closet.
Although the blizzard initially caused some confusion, King's students proceeded to serve despite the weather. The hungry had to be fed, snow or no snow.
“At dinner time we had tons of help to serve 250 people, and immediately after we served them people began to turn the dining hall into a dorm,” said Sadie Elliott ('18), who spent most of the day coordinating volunteers at the Bowery Mission.
“We watched as the floors got mopped and two-inch mats were laid down. Edwin Supo [one of The Bowery Mission's volunteer coordinators] explained to us that tonight, 150 homeless would be sleeping on their floor. It was in the moment that I was convicted—it wasn't about King’s students getting out in the blizzard. It was about getting the homeless inside.”
After dinner, Supo pulled Elliott aside to thank her.
“Your group doesn’t take no for an answer,” Supo said. “And you truly show the heart of Jesus. We couldn’t do this without you. Your students are amazing.”
Sarah Edmiston, Volunteer Manager from The Bowery Mission, echoed Supo's gratitude for the volunteers.
“The King’s College blew us away!” said Edmiston. “With this winter's record high number of emergency meals, students like Sadie Elliott proactively coordinated extra TKC volunteers through texts, calls and social media.”
“Not only did Sadie coordinate volunteers, she also served in the clothing room and the kitchen,” Edmiston continued. “The Bowery Mission is so grateful for the servant leadership expressed through The King’s College, and we hope to have you back again soon.”
Edmiston did not have to wait long for her hope to be fulfilled. Another group of King’s students returned to The Bowery Mission at 7 a.m. the next morning to help serve breakfast, making up for a shortfall in staffing that resulted from Winter Storm Jonas.
Over the course of the day, more than 100 people from the King's community served at the two locations. Campbell was pleased with the turnout, especially given the unfavorable weather.
“I think the most rewarding part about today was that stuff happened and it wasn’t a disaster, despite the blizzard,” he said. “Just the fact people came and got things accomplished—it felt really good.”