Pictured left to right: Lisa Crill, Friday Fare volunteer scheduler; Pointview Elementary Principal Sherry Birchem; John Miller, Pointview backpack deliverer; and Chris Buehler, Friday Fare backpack coordinator.
In 2008, as part of Westerville Christian Church’s 40th anniversary celebration, “Friday Fare” began as a ministry to reach out and help the Westerville community. A small group of volunteers provided weekend meals for six hungry families in two schools. Six years later, the Friday Fare program has mushroomed. They now serve 82 families in 15 schools, 13 of which are in the Westerville City School District.
Each Friday, Westerville Christian volunteers deliver bags to schools containing two meals for a family of four. Recipients are recommended by school officials, who target families who need a little extra help. To protect student privacy, the church never receives names or information about those who receive the food. They simply drop it off with the hope and belief that their gift will make a difference. They now provide 656 meals each week, totaling well over 20,000 meals every school year. Paying full price at the grocery store for that much food, they say, would cost more than $40,000. Donations are always appreciated. On February 27, Ohio State football legend Archie Griffin will speak at a church-sponsored event to help raise money for the program.
At the beginning of the school year, partner families receive a letter from Westerville Christian Church that states, in part, “We recognize that, within the current economy, many people are facing financial challenges. While your children may enjoy lunches being provided during the school day, we also understand that kids are hungry on the weekend, and the family budget may be stretched thin. Providing these backpacks is our way to let families know that someone does care about them.”
It takes a lot of work to serve so many people. Tracy Rush, who coordinates the effort, said “Roughly 37 volunteers are involved in some aspect of the program each month – shopping, packing, delivering. Truly, the whole church is involved in one way or another.”
For these same families, Westerville Christian will offer a gift shop on December 5 where parents can stroll through an inventory of games, toys, sporting goods and small electronics to select Christmas gifts for their children.
And the giving doesn’t even stop there. Pointview Elementary personnel report that even they receive treats from the church from time to time. Secretary Mary Zarley said, “Today we received cookies with a nice note saying ‘Congratulations for surviving the first nine weeks!’”