GraceWorks has always been about people serving each other. Indeed, our mission statement reflects it: “Neighbor serving Neighbor, by the power of God’s grace.”
But these days our Neighbors are stepping up and serving with an unprecedented abundance.
In the past eight weeks since the COVID-19 outbreak, GraceWorks has had double – and some days, triple – the requests for food and double the need for rent and utility assistance, and food shelves were nearly bare at the end of many days.
Yet, somehow, those shelves were filled again the next day. GraceWorks CEO Valencia A. Breckenridge called it “manna from heaven.”
Churches, neighborhoods, businesses, even children. They all keep coming forward and helping in the time of the community’s greatest need.
They’ve sold handmade items. They’ve rallied their own Neighbors to contribute food, and that most precious commodity – toilet paper. They’ve given of their own money. And on and on and on.
Children have used their time with schools closed to teach lessons in compassion to their neighbors. Sloane, a young Scout in Franklin, contacted GraceWorks on March 19, the first day COVID-19 shutdowns began at GraceWorks. Discovering GraceWorks most needed personal hygiene items at that time, she posted lists around her neighborhood, collected them and brought them to our Food Pantry.
Teenager Melody wanted to get involved too. She baked cookies, sold them and delivered the proceeds to GraceWorks. Three young brothers – Will, Andrew and Xander – pooled their allowances to bring about $100.
Presley collected 414 pounds of food from friends and family for her birthday. Her compassion so moved her father that he put up a tent in front of his business, Kevin Wimpy Portraits, with bins to collect even more items. The family has brought in thousands of food and toiletries so far, and they haven’t stopped collecting.
Another photographer, Amanda Mae Steele, offered her skills in taking neighborhood “quarantine photos” to solicit donations from Franklin’s Creekstone Community. The result was a treasure trove of food and paper products to help their Neighbors through GraceWorks.
“It’s amazing how quickly a group can mobilize when it is united on a cause bigger than itself,” Steele wrote in her blog. “Yet once the idea was spoken out into the world, the plan quickly gained momentum, and things fell beautifully into place.”
FLAG Wilco discovered how eagerly people would respond when given a way to help their Neighbors. The grassroots group – formally Front Line Appreciation Group of Williamson County – was organized to provide food to medical workers and frontline workers. It then branched out to help nonprofits.
Eighteen hundred people responded to FLAG Wilco’s call to donate food to GraceWorks. In early May, nine loaded vehicles wheeled into the GraceWorks parking lot. Group members and members of Page High School sports teams unloaded a whopping 4,049 pounds of food.
Several churches sponsored food drives and brought checks. Many restaurants brought in lunch for GraceWorks staffers. Musician Randy McLellan raised money for GraceWorks through a Sunday afternoon Facebook Live performance. A local pub held a toilet paper drive. Kelly of KelbySews stitched and sold face masks to raise funds. A group of seamstresses in Spring Hills’ Southern Springs addition did the same.
So many helpers brought so much help. GraceWorks greatly appreciates the hundreds of our Neighbors who have put forth such effort in serving Neighbors in this uncertain time.
And the servers have found unlooked-for blessings, as Amanda Mae Steele discovered.
“But there was an even greater blessing in all of this: the gift of connection,” Steele wrote in her blog.
“I got to know my Neighbors’ names, hear their stories, and get a glimpse into their heart and soul. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and love as I combed the streets of our neighborhood. Although COVID-19 is something to be grieved, my goodness, I don’t know that the world has ever experienced this outpouring of love, grace, and mercy since the first Easter day.”