GREAT FALLS — Every Saturday at Vineyard Church in Great Falls, volunteers come together to help pack up and hand out food to those in need. It’s something they’ve done at this church for more than 30 years - but staff and volunteers say the need now is much greater.
Rick Mazaira is the lead pastor and says the church has been transformed by the food drive. That transformation has been a lot more obvious the last 18 months he says.
“In 2019, we thought giving 3,000 pounds of food a month was pretty remarkable, but the truth of the matter is now we’re giving away 44,000 pounds of food a month," he said.
To put that in perspective, that is the equivalent of more than 5,100 gallons of milk or about 2,250 Thanksgiving turkeys they give each month, and they sustain that number because of how drastically the need has increased.
“I’m glad we get to do that. I wish we didn’t have to. One of the most rewarding things for me is to see the transformation happen in peoples’ lives,” he said. “Like this morning on the staff here on Saturday morning, we have three guys that are coming out of pre-release. We have folks that are receiving food that actually come to help us. They want to have the dignity of being able to work and a part of what they receive.”
This is by no means a handout – it’s just a little extra help during a tough time.
Carol Helseth has been on staff with the church for years and volunteers every weekend to pray with the people that come to receive food and says that is just as important as helping with physical needs.
“They depend on it, and then during Covid, we’ve allowed people to come every week. and so people come week after week. It’s the same people even. It’s such a need being filled. Often what’s missing is, you know, we try to fill the physical needs, but people are just feeling very empty, too, and so that’s part of being a church and being spiritual people, we try to deal with that part of peoples’ lives as well,” Helseth said.
Vineyard Church is 1617 6th Avenue North; click here to visit the website.