Church members donate gift bags to food pantry clients

| Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, 8:58 a.m.

Volunteers wheeled dolly after dolly stacked full of festive gift bags into the church hall at Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church Tuesday morning as volunteers got ready for the evening's food pantry distribution.

About 30 people pitched in to prepare more than 300 gift bags for those who rely on the Westmoreland County Food Bank to help fill their cupboards. After weeks of collections, members of Faith United Methodist Church in Delmont had made sure that every family that came to the Mother of Sorrows food pantry would have an extra-special Christmas breakfast.

“It's God's work,” said Joy Spang, outreach chairwoman for the Delmont church. “Hopefully, we're making sure that on Christmas morning, everyone has a breakfast.”

The church spent more than a month collecting the gift bags that were distributed to the more than 200 families who attended Tuesday's food pantry distribution. Each bag contained a full-size box of cereal, two cans of fruit, a box of instant hot chocolate, a box of muffin or coffee cake mix, a jar of jam or jelly, a Christmas ornament and a signed Christmas card from a local family. In its fifth year, the breakfast bag ministry was even more popular than previous years, Spang said. Larger families were able to have multiple bags this year, she said.

“We're hoping they can set aside the extra breakfast for Christmas morning,” Spang said. “But we know that's not always the case.”

The donation is a huge help, said Jerry Segner, coordinator of the food pantry.

“It's a very special program,” Segner said. “Our clients appreciate it, and it reminds everyone of the Christmas spirit.”

Each month, the food pantry distributes food to about 200 families from the Murrysville area. Local churches regularly donate extra goods for distribution, in addition to the food boxes supplied by the Delmont-based food bank.

The breakfast bag outreach is popular with both clients and members of Faith United Methodist Church, Spang said. At least 10 SUVs stuffed full with gift bags lined the Mother of Sorrows parking lot Tuesday morning.

“Times are very difficult right now,” said Don Watkins of Greensburg. “It's a blessing that we are able to help. We live on the basis of sharing Christ's love with others through our faith.”

Members of the congregation were enthusiastic as they delivered their holiday gifts. Nancy Godula of Greensburg hustled in and out of the hall, her arms loaded with bags and her face bright with a smile.

“There's a need here and we can fill it,” Godula said. “I'm glad we can.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or

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