Most churches have a box of canned goods and some Top Ramen tucked away somewhere, just in case.
If pastors encounter a family that needs some food, they can tap into that reserve and provide a helping hand. But in these dire economic times, a larger number of people need assistance.
What's a pastor to do if he goes to the box and it's empty?
Don Boomer Volunteers Kimberly Hitt and Dorece Francis pack boxes of food at the Western Eagle food bank Wednesday. The organization has started a new program through which partnering nonprofits can receive vouchers for food boxes in exchange for donating food and clothing to Western Eagle throughout the year. (Photo by Don Boomer - Staff photographer)
If a new program started by the Western Eagle Foundation catches on, he'll be able to hand the family an emergency voucher good for one of Western Eagle's food boxes, a large box of food that normally sells for $25. And if the family needs a pair of jeans or a sweater, he can hand out a clothing voucher.
The program, launched July 1, is called WeCare ---- Western Eagle Concerned About Reaching Everyone ---- and it's being directed by Stacy Duty, who has spent more than a decade working with and for food banks and nonprofit thrift stores.
To be a part of the program and receive the vouchers, a WeCare partner must pledge to periodically donate some food and clothing items to the nonprofit.
Duty has signed up four partners so far, and he's got dozens of other organizations interested in signing up.
"Any organization," he stressed during a tour of Western Eagle's new home on County Center Drive in Temecula. "It can be a senior center, the Boys & Girls Club, a church, a school, a business."
The four partners so far are two churches, Murrieta's CrossPoint Church and Ranchland Church in San Diego; Birth Choice of Temecula, a nonprofit that provides resources to mothers and pregnant women; and Project Touch, a nonprofit that helps Southwest County's homeless.
If Duty's plans come to fruition, the four will be joined by organizations throughout Southern California. Western Eagle will give out the vouchers ---- 10 a month to start ---- and the partners will send back donations. The more partners that join the program, the more people Western Eagle and its WeCare partners will be able to help, Duty said.
"WeCare is going to be a comprehensive benevolent program," he added.
To help finance WeCare, which is an extension of Western Eagle's food bank, the organization runs a thrift store that is stocked with items donated by area businesses and individual donors. In addition, it is working on new fundraisers to boost monetary donations.
Steve Redden, CrossPoint pastor, said he likes the program because it allows the partners to provide help in the form of a Western Eagle voucher alongside counseling or other services.
Duty said that sort of structure was put together on purpose.
"I really want there to be a relationship created with the organization they get the voucher from," he said.
Redden said that people constantly come to the church looking for help, and a lot of them are single mothers struggling to make ends meet.
"I love it that there is no ego involved," Redden said. Recalling a conversation he had with Duty, Redden said, "He was like, 'We have to help these people.'"
Western Eagle's president, Todd Sieja, said the program has provided much-needed visibility to the foundation's charitable outreach.
"I always thought people knew about us," he said, adding that since the program launched, there has been a surge in contacts from new people.
The foundation moved about 13 years ago from San Bernardino to a location on Diaz Road, a 20,000-square-foot warehouse. It moved to a warehouse double that size on County Center Drive in March.
Click here to see article as it appears in The Californian.
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