Community collaboration and generosity feeds families in need

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (November 22, 2020) – 100 families with students at Lansing public schools will have their Thanksgiving meal supplied this year, the result of a collaboration between the soon-to-be-nonprofit We Are Lansing, four churches, and Thrivent Financial.

Just before noon on Wednesday, November 18, TF South student and We Are Lansing organizer Cam Sanchez, First United Methodist Church pastor Dave Price, Lansing Assembly pastor Jonathan Vitale, and Thrivent Financial Associate Doug Horne dropped off 32 boxes of food at TF South High School. The stop was the first of many during Wednesday’s “Thanksgiveaway” event where the group dropped off Thanksgiving meal boxes for Lansing public schools to give to families in need.

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Cam Sanchez, who coordinated the event with help from local pastors, poses with boxes of food before the “Thanksgiveaway” on Wed. Nov. 18. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

A different type of food drive

Sanchez, who has organized two drive-thru food drives in Lansing—one in August, and the other in October—originally wanted to do a Thanksgiving-themed drive-thru event but in working with Dave Price and the other pastors, decided to deliver Thanksgiving food to schools. Each public school district in Lansing (215, 171, and 158) received about an equal share of the 100 boxes to distribute to Lansing families.

“Initially, I wanted to do this for the general public, but someone else mentioned, ‘Hey, why don’t we get the schools, and try focusing on the schools?'” Sanchez said. The rationale behind the decision was that delivering food to schools is less socially-oriented in the midst of rising COVID-19 cases than a drive-thru event, and it allowed the schools, who often know which families are most in need of help, to distribute the food.

Thanksgiving
TF South staffer James Neely (center) directs the donors to where the food boxes should go. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
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Thrivent Financial Associate Doug Horne carries in two food boxes, followed by Jonathan Vitale, pastor at Lansing Assembly. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
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First United Methodist Church pastor Dave Price follows Cam Sanchez into the TF South kitchen area with boxes of donated food. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Many donors, many Thanksgiving meals

The donated boxes contained green beans, cranberry sauce, corn, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes, all of which was provided through donations from Lansing Assembly, First United Methodist Church in Lansing, Lighthouse Community Church in Lansing, and Joy Christian Fellowship in Chicago.

Thanksgiving
The donated boxes contained green beans, cranberry sauce, corn, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese and mashed potatoes, as well as a $20 gift card to Strack & Van Til. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Each box also contained a $20 gift card to Strack and Van Til grocery store for families to purchase a turkey, ham, or whatever else they needed. Thrivent Financial made a $2500 donation to provide the gift cards and support the event.

“Thrivent is very much into generosity … Our background really lends itself to helping in communities and helping communities in need. That’s baked into what we do,” said Thrivent Financial Associate Doug Horne. Horne was contacted by Pastor Nate Smith at Lighthouse Church who asked if Thrivent wanted to help sponsor the event, and Horne agreed.

Thanksgiving
From left to right: TF South staffer James Neely, First United Methodist Church pastor Dave Price, We Are Lansing organizer Cam Sanchez, Lansing Assembly pastor Jonathan Vitale, TF South staffer Lionel Watkins, and Thrivent Financial Associate Doug Horne. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Sanchez aspires to start We Are Lansing as a nonprofit organization that will serve the Lansing community.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I am very proud, as a member of the church, of the part that the First United Methodist Church played in this food distribution. Rev. Dave Price has been very instrumental in many social justice outreach programs taking place in Lansing, especially during the pandemic. A big thank you also to all the other churches and organizations involved in this project. You are all definitely helping to make Lansing a better place by showing great sensitivity to the needs of others.

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