Praise the Lord and thank the community for the outpouring of love and donations for the young mother and her babies who came to the Juniata County Food Pantry for help in January. The calls, prayers and donations from Juniata and surrounding counties were overwhelming. Several kind residents of Juniata and Mifflin counties even offered to accommodate this family in their own homes.
We filled a room with stacks of blankets, coats, clothing, groceries and baby supplies higher then our heads. There was enough for 5 families. When I showed the mother into this room she immediately burst into tears. She told me no one has ever treated her with such kindness. She has thanked me a hundred times over and has asked me to pass those thank-yous on to all of you.
This little family is now in good shape for clothing, including winter coats, diapers, wipes and other baby supplies, laundry detergent, dish soap, towels and blankets. The young lady was also thrilled with the donation of a double stroller. Since she must go everywhere by foot this will make her life so much easier. And she was very touched by the Bible story book for toddlers which she shared straight away with her 2-year-old.
Over a year ago, due to a job loss, this young mother also lost her home. Since then she has moved around living temporarily with relatives, friends, in shelters and even on the streets. Presently she has found an apartment near family. Donations of money and gift cards for this family were used to help them with immediate needs, such as food and a humidifier for the baby who was sick. The remainder of the money went to help them obtain housing. Shelter Services and Coalition of H.O.P.E.S. in Mifflin County also worked to assist them.
Thank you so much for showing this family the love of Jesus while they were here in our county. I am sure they will never forget your generosity, and I pray that it will bring them all closer to the Lord's loving arms. Please continue to pray for this young mother and her children. The road ahead of them is a rough one.
The outpouring of compassion for the young mother and her babies was both amazing and encouraging to us at the Food Pantry where we see people struggling every day. So often we hear the bitter comments that the poor among us are "simply lazy, cheating the system, driving Cadillacs while they collect food stamps."
I don't deny that these people exist - cheating and lying are prevalent in our society, both rich and poor, worldwide. But please don't paint everyone with the same brush. The truth is most of them are just like you and me - loving our families and struggling to make a decent living for them. Only the very thinnest of lines divides "us" from "them." A lost job, a catastrophic injury, illness or death in the family, a spouse that deserts, a mental or physical disability, or simply, old age.
These hurting people live among us, in our communities, our neighborhoods, within the very shadows of our churches. Yes, right here in picturesque, rural Pennsylvania. They are children and elderly, and they are going without food, heat, shelter, and proper medical care. Please don't close your eyes and turn away.
Here in Juniata County we have over 300 families coming to us for help every month. That's almost 1,000 people - more than ever in the history of our food pantry. Almost 400 of them are children and many are elderly. I know that the same desperate need applies in our neighboring counties. I pray that we can share the love of Jesus with all those who are hurting just as surely as we did with the young mother and her babies. Please don't hesitate to give generously and regularly to your local food pantries. Only with your help can we keep these shelves full, every month, every day with the food and other necessities our neighbors need to stay healthy. In addition to the food pantries, Shelter Services and Coalition of H.O.P.E.S. are agencies that serve our poor through assistance with shelter, heat, utilities and other services, but they can't manage without your help either.
We pray that the community's compassion for the poor and hungry living among us does not falter.
Thank you and God bless.
Kathy Queitzsch is Executive Director of the Juniata County Food Pantry.