Loaves and Fishes
“As you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me.”
Many members of the congregation participate by contributing to the purchase of HEB gift cards and by donating toiletries, Christmas cards, stamps, and other items. Another quartet of All Saints' members prepares and brings breakfast tacos every Tuesday around 7:30 a.m. and staffs the "Prayer Room" (aka the Masterson Library). The spiritual help offered in the Prayer Room between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. is as great as the assistance given with checks or HEB cards. Several parishioners and volunteer clergy offer to listen and pray with clients.
Congregational giving makes it possible to purchase discounted Capital Metro bus passes and HEB gift cards (which are used for a small payment on food or anything sold at HEB except tobacco, alcohol and the lottery) and for financial assistance. Financial assistance (seldom more than $25 and sometimes less) is given for rent, ID's, birth certificates, prescriptions not available at HEB, out-of-town transportation, glasses, textbooks and work boots.
Loaves & Fishes serves between 18 and 26 people each week, depending on the amount of assistance available. Clients are served on a first-come, first served basis; therefore, some arrive as early as 6:00 a.m. If there are more people than the allotted number (and there always are), those not served are given the opportunity to return the next week and are assured of being seen first. At times, we have had more than 50 people come and have had to turn some away for two successive weeks.
Because of the connection with other Micah 6 churches, Loaves & Fishes has participated in a cooperative effort to assist some individuals. Also, information is being shared with regard to ways to help some of our mutual clients more effectively. All Saints' has become a founding member of the Micah 6 Food Pantry, housed in University Baptist Church. Because more food can be acquired through the Food Pantry than with HEB gift cards, clients with large families are directed there instead of being given the gift cards. Also, Loaves & Fishes contributes to the Micah 6 Food Pantry in the name of All Saints' Episcopal Church.
Another important part of this ministry is to see Christ in the people who come for assistance and to show them options they may have been too overwhelmed to discover. All of us who have personal contact with the clients, however, gain more than they when we observe the strength, perseverance and faith many of them exhibit in handling the difficulties of their lives.