More than 300 members of the community were served during an outreach program hosted by Shepherd’s Hand Ministry and Living Hope Community Church on Saturday. A long line was already wrapped around the parking lot 30 minutes before the event was scheduled to begin, showing how big the local need is for clothes and other everyday necessities.
Shepherd’s Hand was founded by Gwen Bennett more than a decade ago. Bennett was unable to attend Saturday, but her granddaughter Whitney Howard — who is in line to eventually take over the organization — helped oversee the event.
Howard said Shepherd’s Hand started because Bennett “had it on her heart for a while from God to start a clothing ministry.” The organization eventually began partnering with Living Hope for community outreach events.
“We bring our clothes and we bring diapers and formula and anything that we can to help, and the church provides the location and extra people to help,” Howard waid. “We’re just trying to reach as many people as possible to give them food, clothing, and most importantly try to talk to them about God and introduce them to Him.”
Everything that Shepherd’s Hand gives out comes from donations. Anyone interested in donating can do so at the organization’s trailer in the back parking lot of The Father’s House church at 3031 Bittel Road. Donations are accepted Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donations can also be dropped off at Living Hope at 1709 Alexander Avenue.
Shepherd’s Hand and Living Hope partner for similar neighborhood outreach events every 2-3 months. Jerry Tanner, pastor at Living Hope Community Church, said he’s proud of the partnership.
“God cares about all of our needs — for sure all of our spiritual needs, but He cares for our mental needs and our physical needs as well,” Tanner said. “We’ve been blessed with many material things, so we’re just grateful to be able to share that with those who need the material things. We set it up just to try to help those in our neighborhood. We’re here to love on each other, to get to know each other, to meet material needs, and to talk about the love of God to each other.”
During Saturday’s event, the organizations also provided a sack lunch that included a hot dog and chips. Scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. in the Living Hope, by 10:30 the parking lot was already full of people. By 11:30, more than 200 people had come through.
“It just shows that our community needs more resources than they have, and we’re just happy that we can be the hands and feet of God, and be able to provide to those who may just need some extra help,” Howard said.
Tanner said there’s always a large turnout for those in need, but he’s grateful there’s also a big group ready to help meet that need.
“We can kind of get used to (the size of the turnout), but if you’re new to that it is kind of an eye-opening moment because you realize how many people in our community that we live in are in need,” he said. “These days there are a lot of things that keep people from being able to have what they need. I thank God that on the other end, there’s people who are able and willing to help with the need.”