More than 5000 non-perishable food items have been collected thanks to a partnership that has developed between local churches, Anglicare, and several Mirvac shopping villages.
Inspired by more than 15 years years of collaboration between Cherrybrook parish and Cherrybrook Village, this is the first year that the Anglicare food drive has occurred in five other shopping centres across Sydney.
During August, shoppers were invited to donate pantry staples and other useful items at collection points in the centres. Local churches spread the word, distributed flyers and packed items to give to Anglicare. Donations will be used as part of Anglicare’s food and financial assistance program, which assists more than 29,000 families annually.
Why the partnership made sense
There are many reasons why Cherrybrook Anglican makes this a priority in their church calendar. “Firstly, we get to help the needy,” says senior minister the Rev Gavin Poole. “Secondly, we have the opportunity to partner with Anglicare and other organisations in our community. Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, we have the opportunity to engage with our community. That gives us the opportunity to let our community know that we’re here for them.”
Traditionally, Cherrybrook parishioners spend a day knocking on doors to also collect food as well as having collection points in the community. Even though COVID meant plans had to be adjusted this year, they were still able to pack 80 boxes of supplies to help families in need.
At South Village in the Sutherland Shire, Gymea Anglican and Soul Revival Church teamed up to staff the donation drop-off point. Church members aged 18 to 80 spent their time inviting shoppers to donate and striking up conversations from a safe distance.
“They said they had lots of good conversations with people and the team are keen to do it again,” says the Rev Graham Crew, senior minister at Gymea. “We pray that those who were contacted would see Jesus behind the lives of those who are involved. We want them to connect with the one who has moved our hearts to care.”
“We pray that those who were contacted would see Jesus...”
Blessing in a tough year
Mr Crew adds that it was the work of dedicated church members, plus the partnership with Anglicare and Mirvac, that got the food drive off the ground with such short notice.
“Our church has a heart for vulnerable people,” he says. “It’s been the members and our warden Steve Leitch [who have made this happen]. It’s been a helpful partnership between us, Soul Revival and Anglicare. It’s lovely to be able to do those sorts of ministries across churches.”
Stephen Kuo, Anglicare’s partnership development officer for the Western Region, was overjoyed when Mr Poole phoned him about a potential partnership. Being able to collaborate and collect supplies has been a blessing in a tough and trying year. “We are thankful for this opportunity, and to see churches who came on board despite challenges,” he says. “We are grateful for any donations. A lot of these boxes and collection places were unmanned, and it was the first time [we had done this in many centres].”
“Our church has a heart for vulnerable people.”
Mr Poole prays God will keep developing relationships and is thankful for opportunities to care for the community through partnering with Anglicare and Mirvac. “Pray for our communities' awareness of us, and pray that we will be bold in proclaiming the gospel,” he says. “Our motivation is to care for the lost like Jesus did.”