Parishioners in the small, rural farming communities around Mayport, Pa., wanted to "do something, to take food" to a town struggling and in need of food donations, especially after Hurricane Sandy. Reaching out to a number of towns that were in need, Valarie and Bob Reinsel found that most were looking for cash donations as opposed to nonperishable food items.
“So I went on Google to search for towns desperately in need of food (to stock) food pantries and your article was the first one that came up,” Reinsel said, referring to the Montville Patch story ‘Food Donations Desperately Needed for Thousands of Montville Residents.’
At first Valarie thought it was she was seeing when she saw the Montville Patch story. She called and spoke to Montville Senior and Social Services assistant Robin Washington, and learned that it was not only Connecticut but that the food pantry here would absolutely welcome a truck load of food, Reinsel “went back to the church to let them know.”
“I said, ‘We’re going to Connecticut'.”
And so folks from the Mayport Lutheran Parish – Zion Lutheran and Bethlehem Lutheran -- as well as the church Valarie grew up attending, Paradise Community United Church of Christ, joined to collect canned and boxed foods bound for homes of needy folks in a town 500 miles away. And it wasn’t just the churches, Reinsel said, “local grocery stores helped, too.”
“It was your story. It was Patch,” Washington said, describing how moved she was when the call came from Pennsylvania.
Valarie and Bob left Pennsylvania Thursday, stayed in a motel Thursday night and then got on the road early Friday morning. They arrived early Friday afternoon.
Washington was stunned.
“They were beautiful, generous people who reached out to their community in order to help another (community),” Robin wrote in an email to Patch.
“It seems like each time you and I speak, the stories get more extraordinary. I have never seen so many truly touching random acts of kindness as I have in the past few months,” she wrote. “I've not had to hesitate once when people have asked me what I am grateful for. I'm surrounded by it every day. Thanks for all you've done to help us.”
And for Valarie and Bob Reinsel and the hundreds of parishioners that banded together to share food with folks in need, albeit people hundreds and hundreds of miles away, “God was working here.”