October 15, 2014

Volunteers of all ages gathered to participate in United Methodist Ministries' first Harvest for Hunger Day of Service on Saturday, October 4th. The day consisted of gleaning field crops at the Springfield United Methodist Big Garden, followed by delivery to a local food pantry.

Groups and individuals gathered at Hanscom Park UMC before traveling together to the Big Garden site in Springfield, Nebraska. Kris and Mike Betts of the Springfield UMC worked alongside volunteers in the field, which is on land owned by church members Dwight & Bette Trumble.

Through the course of the morning, volunteers worked through cold winds to glean a full truckload of produce that included butternut squash, beets, chard, carrots, snap peas, and tomatoes. The volunteers filled an additional truck with potatoes and watermelons that were harvested before threats of rain and frost.

After a lunch break, the volunteers traveled with the produce to Heartland Hope Mission in Omaha. Located near 21st & Q Street, Heartland Hope Mission is part of Omaha's three-pantry Hunger Collaborative, which works to find solutions to end hunger in our area. Nathan Morgan, executive director of United Methodist Ministries, estimates that roughly 3,000 pounds of produce were gleaned and donated through the Harvest for Hunger Day of Service.

Craig Howell, of the Hunger Collaborative, said, "We are so thankful for the service of United Methodist Ministries volunteers who gleaned on Saturday morning and provided our Heartland Hope Mission clients the fresh produce that afternoon. The best thank you that can be said from our clients is that there was no produce left at Heartland Hope when the Saturday pantry closed."

Volunteers represented Creighton University, Elkhorn Hills UMC, First UMC in Omaha, Hanscom Park UMC in Omaha, St. James UMC in Bellevue, and St. Paul UMC in Papillion.

Jessica Thacker Schleinat, youth group leader at First UMC in Omaha said, "Our youth group loves any time we can partner with other churches. We strongly believe that we can achieve more together and are grateful for the opportunities United Methodist Ministries provides. For many of our youth, it was only the second time going to a pantry, so it is definitely an experience that puts life into perspective. They left feeling energized to continue to serve and care for all of God's children. Thank you for a wonderful day!"

United Methodist Ministries' days of service for 2015 are as follows: Martin Luther King, January 19th; Global Youth Service Day, April 25th; and Harvest for Hunger, September 20th. All are welcomed and encouraged to participate.