This Saturday a local church embarks on a new service project as a gift to the community. First Presbyterian Church of Mount Airy will serve a bagged lunch for those in need on the first Saturday of each month from 11:30 a.m. to noon.
The bagged lunch for Sandwich Saturdays will consist of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chips, an apple and a bottle of water. Anyone who is in need of a free meal may drive or walk to the back of the fellowship hall to pick up the lunch and take it with them.
The idea for this service project began during First Presbyterian Church’s adult mission trip to Charlotte. Members of the church spent a weekend volunteering with Meyers Park Presbyterian Church’s outreach programs, which include a homeless shelter. They also helped with grounds work and volunteered at a retirement home.
During a time of reflection, on the road back to Mount Airy, church members had a conversation about how they could bring the positive experience back to the community and create a volunteer experience that is open to all — from able-bodied adults, to older church members, families, children and the youth.
In fact, according to First Presbyterian Pastor Steve Lindsley, “the youth of the church have always been trailblazers for mission outreach.” Lindsley encouraged the adults involved with the mission trip to duplicate their positive experience and address the issue of hunger in the community. From this, the idea for Sandwich Saturdays was born.
Lindsley, speaking proudly about the members of his church, said, “This is generated 100 percent by them. All I did was say ‘think about what God is calling us to do’ and ‘what next?’ — they took the lead from there. From a pastor’s standpoint, that is a beautiful thing.
“We are following Jesus in a really practical kind of way. The logistics of the church do not allow for us to prepare a hot meal since we lack a commercial-grade kitchen, but most anyone can make a sandwich. Anyone can put an apple in a bag.”
Church member Sara Bailey describes Sandwich Saturdays as an opportunity for the church to help those who may be in need. “People are hurting, but on the surface they may seem like they are doing well. A little bag lunch can make it easier — they don’t have to worry about feeding the kids that day,” said Bailey.
Some of the money for this program was donated to the church as part of the Christmas Eve love offering, which is an offering collected during the evening service and donated to a special cause. A generous church family also stepped up and offered to provide funding for the project.
Bailey described a particularly touching moment during the children’s Christmas play when a young boy gave her a $20 bill, telling her that it was for Sandwich Saturdays. This was his “special Christmas money,” according to the boy’s mother, and it was his idea to donate it to a worthy cause.
“I’m always looking for signs, and this was a sign,” said Bailey, as she described her encounter with the generous young church member. “Talk about a God moment. This was seed money for the entire project.
“We wanted to do something for the community, and we are realistic. Many of us already volunteer at Friends Feeding Friends [held on Thursday evenings at First Baptist Church in Mount Airy] and we wanted a way to help along those lines.”
The entire church has embraced this mission and the sign-up sheet for volunteers is already full through the summer. Lindsley looks at this as a “spiritual growth activity” for everyone and encourages church families to work on this together. “This is a great way to teach your child to follow Jesus. Being a follower is more than just going to church — it is about striving to make a difference in this world — to make God’s kingdom here on earth.”
Service groups or other community organizations are invited to contact the church if they would like to be involved in this service opportunity. Donations for the project also are accepted. Call the church at 786-2803 for more information.
First Presbyterian Church is at 326 S. Main St. in Mount Airy, beside the Municipal Building. Directional signs will be posted on Main Street and Church Street. Those who are interested in receiving a free bag lunch do not need to sign up prior to the event. Families and individuals can pick up bag lunches to take home, or perhaps even take their lunches and enjoy a picnic at a local park.
For now, the project will take place on the first Saturday of each month, but this may be expanded in the future.
According to Bailey, “There is no litmus test for receiving the bag lunches. Anyone who comes on Saturdays are welcome to pick up a lunch. We hope that seeing a friendly face will uplift those who attend. This is a gift for anyone who wants it. It is freshly prepared with love and given freely.”