By Darla Shelden
‘Will Sing For Food’ is the theme of a Christmas concert and sing-a-long to raise funds for the Food Pantry at Church of the Open Arms UCC, in Oklahoma City.
The concert begins at 7 pm, Friday, Dec. 16, at the church 3131 N. Pennsylvania Ave. Admission is free, and donations will purchase supplies for the pantry.
Four singing ensembles will contribute their talents. Mixed Company is the church’s premiere singing group and ambassador choir in the city. Dischord is a women’s chorus offering lovely harmonies and songs of social justice. Twisted Harmony and the Back Row are mixed men & women’s ensembles offering a wide range of fun and traditional songs.
The Open Arms Pantry is a distribution point for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. For ten years it has served families every Friday from 4 – 6:00 p.m. Persons with disabilities and over 60 years of age are served first.
Every Friday afternoon, the Church of the Open Arms Food Pantry passes out 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of food to families in need from the surrounding area.
Mindy Hellwege, representative of the Church of the Open Arms Food Pantry said, “Our food pantry is one of the few client choice food pantries in Oklahoma City, meaning we allow each client to choose what food they need as if they were going to a grocery story. Each client is walked through our ‘store’ with a volunteer who informs the client how much they get of each product, helps bag the food and carry it to their car if needed.”
Led for the past six years by volunteer Laura Choate, the Church of the Open Arms Serving about 100 people a month, the Food Pantry was started in 2002 by church member Sharon Doan.
The Pantry currently serves approximately 500 families a month by a team of volunteer leaders including Bo Bass, Marie Kizzia and Kent Norris. Many other volunteers from the church and the community contribute their time to the Pantry.
“Approximately half of our clients are senior citizens who rely on our food pantry to supplement their limited fixed incomes. Some of them are living on $14.00 – $16.00 in food stamps. With the economy in recession, our numbers are continuing to increase because even middle class people are not able to find jobs,” said Hellwege.
“One story has touched the hearts of many people at this church in the last year. Dale and April Wright came to the food pantry to get food and felt so welcomed that they started volunteering. April’s mom Audrey started volunteering as well. It didn’t take long before they started to come to church and expressed their desire to join. They became an integral part of the food pantry and said they felt like the church was their family. Tragedy struck when April was diagnosed with cancer and very soon thereafter she died. Because of our food pantry, Dale and Audrey continue to have a family to help them through their loss, “ said Hellwege,”
Anyone wishing to donate can do so Monday – Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. or Friday afternoon before the weekly Pantry. Non-perishable items like canned vegetables & meat, peanut butter, and personal hygiene items are welcome. Volunteers are needed to shelve the food on Friday afternoons, to greet families and to staff the pantry on Fridays from 2 – 6:00 pm.
For more information visit www.openarms.org or call 525-9555.