About 1,300 food boxes will be distributed Saturday, Dec. 15, to Columbus-area families in need, thanks to the Bethlehem on Broad Street Ministry.
Although the ministry is hosted at Broad Street United Methodist Church, a large number of the families assisted through the project will benefit through the efforts of Trinity United Methodist Church.
Trinity members spent Friday, Dec. 7, unloading food items from Kroger trucks and packing the boxes. Church members delivered the boxes the next day to the Broad Street church.
All told, Trinity planned to pack about 500 "BoB" boxes, or more than 40 percent of the total number of boxes, said Tony Jones, the BoB "shepherd" who coordinated this year's effort at Trinity.
"This is the 13th year our church has participated in the Bethlehem on Broad mission," Jones said. "At this point, the program here at Trinity kind of runs itself. Everybody looks forward to this holiday mission and knows what to do."
Trinity members contribute funds to purchase food and items such as toilet paper, diapers and paper towels at a discounted price from Kroger, he said. The church also holds its annual Cuisine for a Cause event to benefit the BoB mission.
"The boxes we put together are designed to feed a family of four three meals a day for four days," Jones said.
The items placed in each box include spaghetti, pasta sauce, ramen noodles, canned fruits and vegetables and cereal, he said. Baby food is included in the boxes for families with young children.
The families who will receive the boxes are identified with the help of HandsOn Central Ohio. The organization coordinates Columbus' 211 call center, which connects callers to agencies providing assistance with food, housing, employment, healthcare, counseling and other issues.
Trinity members of all ages participate in the packing days, Jones said.
"A lot of parents bring their children with them to help out," he said. "It's a great way to teach children the importance of giving to others, especially at the holiday season."
"The mission of the United Methodist Church is to serve as disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world," said the Rev. Katy Wheat, Trinity's associate minister of missions and small groups.
"Our aim is to help feed, clothe, educate, shelter and advocate for justice with our neighbors and worldwide in the name of Jesus Christ," she said. "The Bethlehem on Broad project is a central part of what we're trying to do as a church."
Trinity's participation in the BoB project first was organized in 2000 by church member Mike Johnson, who was terminally ill.
"He knew he was dying but he still wanted to help others," Jones said.
That first year, Johnson delivered 50 boxes that were put together in his garage.
"Mike passed away the following year, but since then, our BoB project has just grown and grown," Jones said. "It's Mike's legacy."