Throughout the pandemic, Grace Mission has continued to love God and our neighbors by partnering with our local emergency service facility, the Kearney Center to serve daily meals, an effort that would not have been possible without the dedication of hundreds of community volunteers, including many St. John’s parishioners.
When pandemic-related closures began, volunteers were unable to help and the Kearney Center staff was tasked with making all of the daily meals and distributing them around town to temporary housing locations, a huge undertaking for an organization that relies heavily on volunteer labor.
Despite having to close its own doors to the public, Grace Mission found a way to continue its outreach to the Tallahassee community and lighten the Kearney Center’s load. They took over community wide meal creation and delivery two days a week. While not allowed inside Grace Mission, regular volunteers realized they could assist with this effort by rallying their own families and friends to make peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for Grace Mission’s lunches.
One quick-thinking volunteer was St. John’s parishioner John Allen, a Grace Mission board member who regularly volunteered by serving meals in pre-pandemic days. He felt coordinating the PB&J effort was a natural way to stay involved, so he started personally recruiting friends weekly.
Grace’s need for PB&Js meshed beautifully with St. John’s parishioners’ desire to help! Though parish wide volunteerism was on hold, individuals could sign up to help from the safety of their own homes … and they did! John has been overwhelmed by the response and generosity of St. John’s parishioners. To date, more than 40 St. John’s families have personally contributed to the PB&J effort.
“Some of them have simply made this part of their weekly routine,” says John. “And for me, it’s been a delight to drive around and briefly check in with everyone face to face, especially at the beginning when that was my main excursion out of the house each week.”
Since those days of lockdown this past spring, John has put MANY miles on his car driving around Tallahassee to pick up sandwiches. This coming week, his PB&J crew will pass the 5,000-sandwich mark! John reports there are three St. John’s volunteers who have made more than 300 PB&Js and one St. John’s parishioner who is about to pass 500.
John jokes these volunteers won’t want to look at a PB&J until 2025, but there is still a need! Grace Mission continues to partner with the Kearney Center to keep the meal deliveries rolling in so their clients can remain well fed while staying safe at “home” in temporary housing.
Fortunately, John is in it for the long haul. “It’s a small way I can give back and pay it forward,” says John. “Jesus spent time with and cared for the ‘least of these,’ and that’s what Grace does.”
Can we take a vote to rename this effort “PB&John?!”
In all seriousness, St. John’s is profoundly grateful for the many hands that have contributed to this important work. THANK YOU!