The St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church outreach program represents a small group of people in the community with big hearts, and an even bigger impact.
The church, which hosts from 25 to 30 people on any given Sunday, has an outreach program that affects more than many in the community realize.
“Wherever we find a need, we try to meet it,” said Sue O’Conner, an active member of the program.
Those needs are met on three levels: locally, nationally and internationally.
THE LOCAL aspect, a food backpack program for local elementary and middle school students, has evolved into a major part of Iola’s support for underprivileged children.
Jan Chubb, the pastor with the church, stood in the back of the church with dozens of plastic sacks filled with food for hungry children. Once a week, through the suggestion of the teachers, children’s backpacks are filled with food for the weekend — until they return to school meals.
“The food is delivered to children who are in danger of not eating for the weekend,” Chubb said.
She said the need in the community is greater than many people see, as many children have nothing to eat when they are at home.
“People are proud,” O’Conner said. “And they don’t want to have to ask for food.”
On average, the church, along with help from Sonic Equipment, fill about 110 backpacks per week for students at Lincoln, Jefferson, McKinley and Iola Middle schools.
In addition to the backpack program, there is a bucket full of food in the church that can feed a family of four at any given time. O’Conner said oftentimes the bucket goes out to families three times a week.
“The cost of living these days is outrageous,” she said.
ON A NATIONAL level, the church has adopted an Episcopal church in New Jersey that was “swept out to sea” by Hurricane Sandy.
“The bishop’s chair was found seven blocks away after the storm,” O’Conner said.
St. Timothy’s has taken the church under its wing, and supports it in any way possible. Joyce Roath, along with other members, have been sending stuffed bears with sunflower bandanas wrapped around their heads — along with a gift card to different businesses, like Home Depot and other home improvement stores.
“We are not deciding what they need, they decide what they need,” Chubb said.
Over the Christmas break, Chubb said the church sent cookies and candy from Russell Stover. Also, it is sending Heart of the Home baskets for those who are starting to repair their homes and move back in. The baskets include some of the items needed on an everyday basis, from extension cords to toothbrushes and ashtrays.
By the end of the month, church members will have sent a dozen baskets.
“We had a woman who kept a list of all of the items she touched over the course of a week, then she went to Walmart and bought them,” O’Conner said.
Chubb laughed and said many of the church members in New Jersey were confused when they started receiving support from Kansas, thinking “who do we know in Kansas?” Through assistance from the Episcopal Church’s national office, the Iolans were put in a position to assist those affected in the devastated area.
“We told them that ‘you don’t know us, but you are going to know us,’” Chubb said.
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