November 14, 2014 : By Drew Menard
As bins began to overflow with food donations at Liberty’s Center for Ministry Training (CMT) earlier this week, staff scrambled to find room for the surprising avalanche of goodwill. Three evangelism classes collected more than 2,500 pounds of food in two days for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, which serves more than 114,000 people each month in Western and Central Virginia.
With storage space at a minimum, the CMT decided to make an early delivery on Tuesday, giving the organization a head start in their efforts to help area families for the upcoming holiday season.
Liberty’s Center for Christian/Community Service (CSER) has organized the food drive for the last few years with help from Sodexo, Liberty’s dining services provider, which matches the donation pound-for-pound. Last year, Liberty and Sodexo donated more than 1,200 pounds.
“I am extremely elated to see the response from the student body already in demonstrating compassion to local families,” said Darren Wu, CSER coordinator. “With Sodexo’s generous match, LU will probably be able to provide over 3 tons of food to our immediate neighbors in need.”
Anthony Delligatti, Sodexo district manager, said although Sodexo donates to food banks in the Central Virginia area year-round, matching the Thanksgiving donation to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank is “a considerable donation.”
“This is where we can really try to help them, because based on the weight of the students’ donation, we can order food from our suppliers that the food bank and their network of agencies are able to cook easily,” he said. “Sodexo values improving the quality of life for its clients and for the community surrounding the client.”
Donations of nonperishable food items will continue to be collected through Nov. 19 at three campus locations: Green Hall 1880, Reber-Thomas Dining Hall, and Hill City Bistro at the Residential Annex.
The unexpected early response came from Dr. David Wheeler’s Evangelism 101 classes, where he encourages students to demonstrate God’s love to others through this act of compassion for the hungry. This year marked the largest amount of food his classes have collected.
“I am very proud of my students. They were challenged to give from their hearts, and obviously that is what they did,” said Wheeler, CMT’s director. “On a larger scale, I believe this reflects the heartbeat of Liberty University, and to whom much is given, much is expected in return. For the sake of the Gospel, Jesus fed the hungry and ministered to the hurting. We should, too.”
Jim Scrivener, manager at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, has already expressed his gratefulness to Liberty students, the CSER office, CMT, and Sodexo, for their contributions.
“This donation is extremely important to us and our agencies. Currently, there are over 17,000 people per month in the ‘food insecure’ category in our service area, the greater Lynchburg community. Throughout our entire service area, one out of six are children,” Scrivener said. “It is emotionally moving that college students took to heart the need faced by so many people and rose to the occasion. I cannot thank you enough for this support of our efforts in our community.”