ENGLEWOOD — Thursday afternoon senior and junior players on the Northmont High School varsity football team, along with Head Coach Tony Broering, helped prepare Christmas food care packages at Englewood Christian Assembly of God for the less fortunate in our community.
The football team’s assistance in preparing the food packages has turned out to be a blessing for Pastor Lisa Scarbrough and the church congregation. According to Scarbrough, the team approached the church asking if there was something they could do as a project to give back to the community.
“When they showed up it was fabulous,” Scarbrough said. “Coach Broering came in and shared that his heart was to minister to the community to really reach needs, and for the boys to learn to give. They come in with a fabulous attitude, willing to work, never complain, always a smile. They are just a real blessing to the community and to us for doing this.”
Each month the congregation of Englewood Christian Assembly of God gives away food packages to those in need. For Christmas the church hopes to assist 120 families. In November the church gave food packages to 136 families.
“We try to give away enough meat, bread, peanut butter and jelly, pinto beans, spaghetti so families can have six meals,” Scarbrough said. “They usually get enough food to last five days for a family of four.”
In December the church will give away three pounds of meat, plus a ham to each family. About half the families will receive roasted turkey that is ready to serve for their Christmas dinner. Families will also receive fresh produce such as cabbage, apples, sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions and bakery items such as sliced bread, as well as cakes, pies and cookies.
“This is what we are doing at Christmas time, but this is what we do every month,” Scarbrough pointed out. “Every month our church gives away at least 10,000 pounds of food. All of the food is purchased by the members and adherence of our church. We don’t take donations or solicit donations. The congregation does every bit of it every single month. They foot the bill.”
What makes this more astonishing is that the church has a modest congregation of about 120.
“We are not a huge church, but we are a ‘doing’ church,” she said. “We always tell our congregation, it is one thing to say that you are a Christian, but my husband (Rev. Tim Scarbrough) always says, preach the gospel and use words when necessary. It’s you live it. You live it out, and this is our way.”
Englewood Christian Assembly started preparing food packages in February and since then has serviced over 3,000 people and has purchased well over 140,000 pounds of food.
“This food is reaching the people in our community,” Scarbrough said. “What we are seeing is that the people that are coming in needing help are usually the lower middle class. They don’t qualify for programs such as food stamps. We started noticing around the third week of the month, we started getting phone calls asking if we do anything with food. We would give out an occasional Meijer gift card but the need got stronger, so then we just decided that we have got to do something.”
The food giveaway project started back in February of this year, but the burden of preparing packages can become overwhelming for church members that volunteer their time to run the program.
“Having the football team participate in this program makes it so much easier,” Scarbrough commented. “People can get burnt out, even in ministry. Our congregation gives the money to buy the food, and then I expect them to come in and work this hard every single month. So these football guys show up with their great attitudes and they just do it. It is helping our church maintain this ministry a lot longer than the statistical norm.”
The football team is involved in four or five charitable activities and became involved with the Englewood Christian Assembly project during the summer.
“I brought a handful of the boys the first time back in the summer to help unload the food from the trucks so that the wonderful ladies who do this wonderful service for our community wouldn’t have to do that manual labor,” Broering said. “Since then it has grown into this where we have thirty guys here and so we are now kind of part of the family, so to speak. We’ve done this every month since June and it has been great. It is our honor and pleasure to be able to help. We are thankful they give us the opportunity to do this.”
Broering said that for most of the year only senior players were coming to the church to volunteer.
“The senior class boys would come with me every Thursday at two o’clock to help,” Broering stated. “We would revamp our practice schedule a little bit if the shipment was real big. Since it’s Christmas time, and as you can see there is so much food, we asked… because none of this is required. I’m not that dictatorial. I told the players what I was doing and told them that if they wanted to come out and help, it would be great. All of the seniors that have helped have been fantastic doing this all season long. This time we opened it up to the junior class and told them they should come see what it is all about and help out. It’s a credit to the boys for being such good kids and wanting to help and a credit to the church for allowing us to help.”