05 28 2015

Providing A Shining Light For Families In Need

By David Kapitan
Staff Writer
For many families in and around the Wills Point area, putting food on the table has become increasingly difficult during the economic downturn that has hit much of the country in recent years.
Well aware of the hardships many families face, the International Outreach Church launched the Shining Light Food Ministry in November 2009.
Debbie Burrow, one of the volunteers for the ministry, said several families independently approached the church’s pastor in 2009 with a similar idea to help the community.
After several meetings and prayer, volunteers began putting their efforts into a food pantry to help ease the burden of local families.
Burrow called the project a “blessing,” noting the ministry began by helping around 24 families the first year. Over time, the program has grown to average nearly 120 visitors on a weekly basis.
In 2012 alone, the ministry provided over 140,000 pounds to families in need. Broken down over the course of a year, the ministry handed out an average of nearly 2,700 pounds of food per week.
Burrow explained that a large reason the ministry, which is affiliated with and a member of East Texas Food Bank, has succeeded is the environment created by the volunteers and organizers.
Families come to the ministry, located in a building at the back of the International Outreach Church property, take a grocery cart provided by the ministry, and “shop” for food items for a given week.
Ministry volunteers are at each station, providing assistance and a friendly face. Each family is given a balance of products, including breakfast cereals, fruits and vegetables, dinner food and deserts. The number of groceries given to a family is based on the number of people living in a given household.
Burrow explained many of those using the food ministry have gotten to know each other and the volunteers, taking the time to stop and talk.
Burrow stated, “What we do here is about the food, but it’s also about being a shining light for the whole man.”
Fellow volunteer Maricella Ybarra echoed Burrow’s sentiment, adding, “It fills my heart to give to someone else.”
The Shining Light Food Ministry is open each Tuesday, from 7 a.m. – noon at 1404 Lake Drive in Wills Point.
The ministry will provide one-time help to someone living outside of Van Zandt County, while providing a food bank or ministry in his or her local area. Van Zandt County residents can use the food bank by providing proof of residency.
Anyone wishing to donate to the ministry can contact the International Outreach Church over the phone at (903) 873-4260, or via e-mail at info@wpioc.org.
Volunteers for Shining Light Ministries include: Debbie Burrow, Bobby Burrow, Sue Elkins, Priscilla Araujo, Gilbert Araujo, Moe Kennedy, Kay Johnston, Venetia Morgan, Maricela Ybarra, Karen Peterson, Dick Bradley, Charity Morgan, Diane Brown, Vance Brown, Robert Dickey, Charlie Galloway, Ed Crawford and Jonah Schmitz.

Photo by David Kapitan
A dedicated group of volunteers helps to provide the backbone of the Shining Light Ministry at the International Outreach Church each week. The ministry provides food, and a sense of fellowship and community, to needy families across Van Zandt County each Tuesday morning.

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