Churches team up to sponsor meal ministry fund-raiser

Area churches are teaming up to sponsor the New Life Community Meal Ministry fund-raising dinner and auction on Nov. 15.

The event will be held in Heritage Hall, at Hier's Park starting at 6:30 p.m.

Volunteer Bob Burns- worth says that not a lot of people know about the meal ministry.

"The ministry is in its seventh year," he states. "We started in the New Life Fellowship Church basement and four years ago moved to our current location."

That location is 32 E. Franklin St., right across from the Huntington County Courthouse.

Burnsworth says the ministry is a combined effort of a number of churches to provide a well-needed service.

"We serve one hot meal each day, 365 days a year," he says. "We serve approximately 50 to 75 people nightly."

Last year the ministry served a total of 14,900 people. This year, the number is already at 14,500, Burnsworth notes.

"With the way the economy is right now, more people need a little extra help," he states. "We don't turn anybody away and there are no prerequisites or qualifications required."

He adds that the ministry, which relies heavily on donations for its operation, spends an average of 35 cents per person per meal, minus donations. Donations are always welcome.

"Whether it's cash, perishable or non-perishable items, we'll take it," Burnsworth says. "We even accept produce from vegetable gardens. It all gets used in preparing the meals."

He adds that some of the food the ministry receives comes from banquets, restaurants and caterers in the area that donate the surplus from their events.

"A portion of the monetary donations go towards operational costs," Burnsworth adds. "Excluding food expenses, it costs roughly $800 each month to maintain the building."

Also always needed, Burnsworth says, are volunteers to help out.

"We have a number of people from the five or six churches that are involved, who work in teams," he states. "Also there are individuals that help out independently as well."

Burnsworth says help is most needed on Friday and Saturday nights.

"We find that volunteerism increases from October to December, but tapers off during the spring," he notes.

Youth and young adults who have been assigned community service also volunteer with the ministry, he adds.

Meals are served Monday to Friday, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

"The whole purpose of the ministry is to serve and help feed the people of Huntington, regardless of their situation," Burnsworth states. "The cost of one meal for a family of four adds up over the course of a year.

"Sometimes providing that one meal each day, helps that family to keep the utilities on. It's one less meal to worry about."

Burnsworth adds that the focus is on the people served, not the churches involved.

"It's a group effort and a blessing to watch everyone work together," he states. "It's rewarding in itself to do God's work."

He adds that the ministry is always looking for more churches with which to partner.

"All the proceeds from the dinner and auction go right back into funding the ministry," Burnsworth says.

The Nov. 15 event will include a dinner and program, with special guest speaker Mayor Brooks Fetters, live entertainment with a magician for children, raffles and a benefit auction.

Reservations can be made in advance online at www.icebffg.com/Public/EmbedForm.aspx?formID=91772 or at the door on the night of the event by seeing Marty Bartrom.

There is a cost per person, with a discount for children 10 and under. Groups can also sponsor a table of six for a discount.

For more information on how to get involved in the ministry, contact Scott Thorn at 358-7801or via e-mail at scott_thorn@sbc global.net; or Rev. Jimi Staton at 519-1664 or via e-mail at jimistaton@yahoo.com.

Hier's Park is located at 547 S. Briant St., Huntington.