Updated: May 4
Our 43rd President, George W. Bush, in 2001, spoke about the role of faith-based organizations in assisting the many financial needs in communities across America. In announcing his support of faith-based initiatives, he stated, “In service to others, we find deep human fulfillment.” His Executive Order of creating the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives became controversial because of separation of church and state. Realistically, faith-based organizations have become an important spoke in the wheel of providing assistance to those in need, with or without the government’s blessing.
Although I am the Silver-haired legislator for Linn County, a volunteer position I must add, the thoughts in this week’s column are not intended to be political. Rather, I am simply pointing out faith-based organizations in Linn County are additional reasons to celebrate where we live.
Poverty and the resulting hunger is a very real concern in this county, everywhere actually. Even a can of soup may fill a hungry stomach, thus, a church in Mound City built an outdoor cupboard in their parking lot. Drop off what food you can. Take what is needed, the sign suggests.
Some of the county’s churches have created space within their building for a food pantry. My church makes a monthly financial donation as well as food donations to a nearby church housing one of the food pantries. On Super Bowl Sunday, cans of soup are donated for “Souper Bowl” and given to a food pantry.
During the heart of the pandemic, I was driving by a Methodist church when I noticed a Catholic Charities van, probably from Kansas City, unloading food donations. With inflation and the price of groceries and gas sky-rocketing, the need will increase. It takes many caring individuals to feed our hungry neighbors.
I specifically use the word "concern" in a previous paragraph as that is the name of the social service organization found on Main Street in Mound City. At first glance, it appears to be a retail clothing store. The front window is always creatively decorated and inviting. Once inside, several packages of bread may be available for free or for a small donation. Items for purchase are what people give away, but generally include clothing, shoes, books, kitchens items, and small furniture.
The profits from Concern go back into the community to provide assistance to struggling families. At Christmas and Easter, boxes of food items are given to approximately 40 families. The work of Concern Inc. is based on Matthew 25:35-38, “what you do for another, you have done for me (paraphrased). For more information, I encourage you to check-out their website. Discover how God is “The Boss” of Concern Inc.
A few years back, I no longer needed a sofa sleeper and inquired at Concern. There was some hesitation at first as space is limited within the store. Since it was a nice day with no sign of precipitation, it was suggested I just leave it in front of the building. Sure enough, when I drove through town later that day, it was gone. I recommend we all be courteous donors, and call Concern at 913-795-2092 before dropping off large items. If not picked up, then it becomes a problem for the volunteer staff.
My church, in collaboration with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, provides pillowcases and hygiene items such as soap, wash cloth, toothbrush and toothpaste for children. The sheriff’s office and deputies often see very challenging life situations. When appropriate, they provide an age-appropriate kit. Three pairs of socks and underwear are part of the kit. No child should attend school having only one pair of socks and underwear, but it happens even in Linn County.
No doubt there are other faith-based organizations in the county providing food, clothing, and assistance with other basic human needs. The programs I describe are just the ones I have encountered.
Giving is a privilege and is an opportunity to experience the positive feeling of making our community a better place, one day, one dollar, one person, at a time.