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St. George's Food Pantry

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  • mateliza@aol.com
    St. George s Food Pantry: Serving Christ in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas Your individual, church group, church school or parish-wide donations are
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 5, 2006
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      St. George's Food Pantry:
      Serving Christ in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas

      Your individual, church group, church school or parish-wide donations are
      very much welcomed! Thank you for your continued support!

      1) To continue serving low-income families in our Hidalgo Country, Texas
      neighborhood who come to us asking for food, diapers, school supplies and other
      direct aid assistance. Hidalgo County is statistically the 2nd poorest
      county in the entire USA and St. George’s is located only a few miles from the
      Texas/Mexico border along the Rio Grande.
      2) To serve as an Orthodox Christian witness and outreach in this
      borderlands region.
      3) To provide opportunities for parishioners, local youth and adults, and
      visiting Orthodox youth volunteers to experience serving others through the St.
      George’s Food Pantry.

      History of the Food Pantry Program
      From St. John of Kronstadt
      (My Life in Christ: Part 1, Holy Trinity Monastery pg. 182):

      "What infinite nothingness our food and drink represent on the one side,
      and what infinite grandeur the man himself who is fed by them represents on
      the other side! Is it not the greatest insanity for man, for this image of
      God, for this partaker of the divine nature, for whom... 'God may be all in
      all' (I Cor. 15:28)... to grudge food, drink, clothing, dwelling, and
      anything else earthly, corruptible and transitory! Therefore, do not let us
      be sparing of anything for our neighbour! O, what a great honour it is - to
      feed, to clothe, to give rest to the image of God! Most-gracious and
      Most-bountiful God; fill our hearts with mercy and bountifulness!"
      Fr. Antonio Perdomo arrived in the Rio Grande Valley to be the Pastor of
      St. George’s Church in January 2002. It soon became apparent that the need for
      food and other assistance was very great indeed, as testified by the frequent
      requests made by those from our local community, who came both to the Church
      and his home, hungry and requesting food for themselves and their families.
      Nearly everyday, someone knocked on the Church doors asking for food. When
      the Parish kitchen had nothing available, it was the Perdomo family's own
      pantry which was raided. Their Pantry was raided frequently to share with other,
      but the needs were far greater than could be accommodated in this manner. So,
      what was at first an informal effort to respond to the need to feed those who
      regularly came to the Church later became a formal program.

      With the blessing and support of the Parish, the doors were opened to St.
      George’s Food Pantry in the summer of 2004. Since that time, the Food Pantry
      has quickly grown to serve over 100 families each time it is opened to serve.
      The local Parish donates staple foods and supplies, as do those in our
      community. Our Parish’s International Bake Sale included a “Give A Can; Get A
      Cookie” component to help collect canned food supplies. Local businesses and
      residential retirement communities have also volunteered to be collection sites
      for canned goods. We long to make this a Pan-Orthodox effort! St. George's is
      geographically isolated from other Orthodox Christian parishes. Even though
      we are the only Orthodox Church in the Rio Grande Valley, and we serve our
      Lord Jesus Christ here on behalf of all Orthodox Christians. We pray to become “
      Partners” with the Pan-Orthodox Christian Community—both Parishes, and
      individuals or families—found throughout the region and this North American
      Each time it opens, St. George’s Food Pantry serves over 100 families –
      including many women with children, elderly and handicapped. At Thanksgiving, we
      shared 108 turkeys, and still had to turn away several families. Funding
      food and administration costs for the ever-increasing numbers who come to us
      continues to be one of our greatest challenges.
      From St. Basil the Great:

      “The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry man; the coat hanging
      unused in your closet belongs to the man who needs it; the shoes rotting in your
      closet belong to the man who has no shoes; the money which you put in the
      bank belongs to the poor. You do wrong to everyone you could help, but fail to
      Whom does it serve?
      St. George’s Food Pantry will continue to provide for as many of those who
      come to us as we can possibly serve. Most participants are Spanish-speaking,
      recent immigrants to the USA, women with children and often
      multi-generational extended families to feed. Many of those served are elderly and/or
      handicapped and live on fixed incomes. Much of the population in our Church’s
      surrounding neighborhood live at or below the official national poverty level. Some
      have no other service options, because of immigration status challenges, and
      language barriers. Transportation difficulties and proximity of service also
      plays into our need to directly serve our neighbors. A number of
      participants must ride with others or ask family members, neighbors or friends to bring
      them to the Food Pantry, as they have no transportation. Generally, we open
      two Wednesdays per month. Due to schedule conflicts and out of country travel
      (to Mexico), during last January, the Food Pantry was only open once. The
      following report shares our official statistics for 2006 from January – October.
      November numbers and beyond will reflect the drastic increase in
      participants now served.
      Program/Project Activities: What specific activities are proposed to carry
      out this purpose? Give details about the individual aspects of the
      Currently, St. George’s Food Pantry opens to serve participants twice a mo
      nth, on Wednesdays. Volunteers meet Fr. Antonio at the Church at 8 AM.
      Volunteers and their trucks and/or vans follow him to the Food Bank of the RGV.
      There, Father and the volunteers pick up 3,000 lbs. or more of food and other
      items ordered from the Food Bank of the RGV (costing 14 cents per pound), plus
      any “freebies” which are available. Cases of food are then transported back
      to St. George’s Hall and are unloaded, unpacked and portioned into
      family-sized boxes. Before 8 AM, there is usually line forming outside the Hall. By the
      time Father and the other volunteers return from the Food Bank, the Church
      parking lot is entirely FULL and a long line of participants wait for the Food
      Pantry to open. When the first round of approximately 50 food boxes is ready
      to distribute, Father begins letting participants come into the Hall to
      register and fill out required paper work. Food distribution begins. As space
      becomes available, another 50 food boxes are prepared for waiting recipients.
      Everyone works until all families have been served. The last few months, we’ve
      been feeding over 100 families each time we’re open. Because we’ve run out
      of food, we have had to turn away some who came later in the day, even though
      the Food Pantry was still officially “open”. After the food is distributed,
      the area is cleaned up by volunteers. Some of our volunteers are St. George’
      s Parishioners. Some are local home-schooled youth and mothers. Others are
      regular participants and recipients of the program.
      Program History: This request is to continue funding an
      already-established, on-going program, but one which is not yet able to financially function on
      its own, especially with the current level of demand and growth. The program
      began in 2004 and has grown from serving only 12 families and individuals in
      September 2004 to serving over 200 families in November 2006.
      Individual Donations: During the past year, we have developed a small base
      of regular, monthly or semi-monthly contributors. Even small, steady
      donations of $20, $25, $35 a month help out tremendously! Some individuals have
      monthly drafts sent directly from their bank accounts. Having a steady, reliable
      income is extremely helpful. Besides regular, monthly donations, we have an
      ongoing stream of “one-time” or occasional individual donation sources. We
      continue to cultivate and encourage one-time donations, and are very thankful
      when these gifts are received.
      St. George Food Pantry Statistic Report
      2006 Totals (January – November)
      Families Adults Children Totals
      41 77 106 183* open only once
      Families Adults Children
      100 199 240 439
      Families Adults Children
      104 210 238 448
      Families Adults Children
      83 156 187 343
      Families Adults Children
      100 204 239 443
      Families Adults Children
      117 239 290 529
      Families Adults Children
      127 257 312 569
      Families Adults Children
      142 265 311 576
      Families Adults Children
      154 324 323 647

      Families Adults Children
      194 395 483 878
      Families Adults Children

      204 302 406 708
      Year to Date Totals:
      Families Adults Children Total
      1,366 2,628 3,135 5,773

      St. George's Orthodox Church
      Rio Grande Valley of Tropical South Texas
      _www.stgeorgepantry.org_ (http://www.stgeorgepantry.org/)

      St. George's Orthodox Church
      Rio Grande Valley of Tropical South Texas
      _www.stgeorgepantry.org_ (http://www.stgeorgepantry.org/)

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