Clergy Corner, March 2, 2018

Clergy Corner, March 2, 2018

At Karen Roberson's church, the food donations have been pouring in.

"The people were just so eager to help the families," she said.

This is the third year Roberson's church in Champaign, Church of the Living God, is taking part in Empty Tomb's annual Mega Work-A-Thon, an event that gathers people from area Christian churches to do good in the community. The event is also a fundraiser for Empty Tomb, a nonprofit agency that offers food, clothing, furniture and bill-paying assistance to people in need.

This year, the Work-A-Thon is again focused on collecting food for boxes that will be decorated and delivered to families referred by local agencies.

Members of more than two dozen participating churches will be delivering the food boxes Saturday.

As of earlier in the week, these churches had already collected enough food to supply boxes for 450 families, according to Empty Tomb Coordinator Shannon Cook.

In some of the churches, individual families are volunteering to take on a box to supply a family in the community, which is a great way to get kids involved in thinking of others, Cook said.

She had an opportunity to deliver some food boxes herself last year, she said.

"When they see the box, their whole face lights up," Cook said of the recipients.

Church families doing the giving do more than drop off the food. They talk to and pray with the families they're delivering to, Cook said. She recalled how it touched her to offer encouragement and pray with these families.

"It was like they needed more than just food," she said.

This year, the food boxes are being stocked with staples such as rice, flour, vegetable oil, pasta, sugar, cornmeal, pepper, oatmeal and ramen noodles.

The boxes are being individually decorated, some with verses from the Bible, Cook said.

Just days before the Work-A-Thon, the fund-raising part of this event still needed a boost.

Most of the $60,811 goal had yet to be raised, Cook said.

The money will be used to help fund Empty Tomb's "no late bill cash reserve" fund, which is money that helps keep operations afloat at times donations are lower.

One of the Mega Work-A-Thon participating churches, Champaign's Apostolic Christian Church, is set to supply 28 food boxes, according to David Bauer, the event contact there. The church committed to 15 food boxes, and the rest are coming with some help from local college students who wanted to get involved, he said.

Roberson, of Savoy, said her church is happy to be involved. It considers itself to be not only in the community, but for the community.

"Our mission goes beyond the four walls, you know," she said.

To make a contribution online, go to emptytomb.org/mwat2018.html. You can also mail a check to Empty Tomb, 301 N. Fourth St., Champaign, IL 61820. The organization asks that any donations via check include "MWAT 2018" in the memo line.

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