Heartfelt’s recent Thanksgiving Project was an enormous success and the grace of God was present in and around the project and everyone involved. Volunteers that had never heard of Heartfelt prior to serving on this project were deeply touched by the experience they had and all that occurred. The purpose of the project was to match 300 hungry families from St. Joseph’s Center, with 300 sponsors who would provide groceries for a Thanksgiving meal…and then some. We invited the recipient families to a celebratory event where they would meet their sponsoring families, receive their food, and any other donations Heartfelt was able to acquire.
The morning of the event a man I didn’t know arrived at the park with 600 loaves of fresh baked french bread, while at the same time, Mission Foods was completing the baking of 7,200 tortillas and fresh rolls to give to our 300 hungry families! The donations that came in for this project were shocking even to me, even still, and I marvelled at how God pours His abundance on these fragile ones, in ways that we could never foresee. It came from all directions all day long! We started with 1,200 turkey rolls, and we fed 1,500 people on turkey rolls all day long and there was so much left over that we were giving huge trays away. We started with 600 juice drinks and by the end of the day there were juice drinks left over, along with water and other drinks.
So many tears were shed, tears of joy, tears of gratitude, tears of humility at being able to serve, tears of compassion. One woman who had received 4 large boxes of cereal in addition to huge amounts of food, knelt down and cried in front of her donor when her daughter said “Mommy can I have cereal tomorrow?” This woman could not ever afford cereal and her child now had 4 large boxes of it. So many stories. So much grace. Some families came that had not been invited or planned for, and there was enough abundance to share with them as well.
Since the project, we have had numerous calls from those first-time Heartfelt volunteers as well as the donors saying that they want to be involved in anything and everything we are involved in; because they never before felt like they did that day. The experience of direct, hands-on service is what we work to create for people so that they know without a doubt how vital their presence is in turning/stemming the tide of the despair of hunger and homelessness. It seemed to work well with this project.
In a debriefing session with the St. Joseph’s staff they marvelled about the care, the respect and loving, and the celebratory atmosphere that was present for all their families. But what was most moving for me personally was that the staff shared that because Heartfelt took on these 300 families and handled them so impeccably, for the first time in their history, St. Joseph’s Center had enough resources to handle all of their families (they have 800) at Thanksgiving, especially those who had never before been able to receive turkeys or any food for Thanksgiving!
They spoke of the fact that exponentially the effect of our project went out in waves throughout the entire Center, their constituency, the community, and on and on. And they cried tears of joy and gratitude in front of us for what was done and how well we did it. Well, this is just a tip of the iceberg at what God accomplished through this project.