Hundreds receive free food
Farmers to Families hands out 1,000 boxes
DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette
Nine-year-old Trae Marquart hustled back and forth in the blistering cold outside St. Joe Community Church on Saturday morning, carrying box after box of food to a large line of cars that stretched for blocks from the parking lot down North Anthony Boulevard.
“He likes to help – he'll do all of the boxes, the whole time,” Trae's mother, Denise Marquart, said as her son lugged a set of boxes to a nearby sedan. She added that Saturday was the second time her family had volunteered to help distribute food.
The Marquarts, who have been part of the congregation since 2015, were part of a group of nearly 50 volunteers who answered the church's call for help distributing food boxes provided by the Farmers to Families Program, funded by the CARES Act passed by Congress last year. Volunteers included area families, students, as well as members of the church congregation.
It was the church's second giveaway; the first happened in October. Fort Wayne Police Department officers also donated their time to help manage traffic, Senior Pastor Greg Byman said.
In all, volunteers handed out about 1,000 boxes of food. Byman estimated that the church served about 700 vehicles, roughly the same as the October distribution. The church also sent some boxes to other groups, including Lifehouse Church and Waynedale Baptist Church, and worked with the local VA to ensure some of the supplies made it to veterans in need, Byman added.
St. Joe Community Church moved into the church at 2900 North Anthony Blvd. in 2015, Byman said.
“We believe in the '05. We love the '05,” he said of the neighborhood ZIP code, 46805. “This our corridor. We just want to love people in Jesus' name.”
The past year has made neighborhood churches more important than ever, and Byman said St. Joe Community Church went to great lengths to continue its ministry amid the pandemic. The church ramped up its contact with congregants virtually, started an online worship service and added a second service, while following pandemic protocols, including limiting building capacity.
Byman said it was heartwarming to see so much of the community gather to help families in need. Some of the volunteers, he said, were asked to just wave and say hello. It was worth braving the cold, he said, to see people smile and to let others know “there are people that care about you, in Jesus' name.”
“We are just one more in the network of so many people that are really there to support,” Byman said.