BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — For some Anthony Wayne Local Schools students, getting enough to eat over the weekend is a problem.
“During school days, students are able to get breakfast and lunch at school; however, we found out that many are in need of food on the weekends,” said Amy Barrett, who directs the weekend food bag program through the Anthony Wayne Community Food Ministry.
As she saw the number of students grow from about 45 in 2019 to over 60 last year, Barrett applied for a grant from the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church’s Endowment Fund and recently learned that the AWCFM received $13,000 for the project.
“It costs about $3.00 per bag for each student each weekend – and now we’re up over 100 students and continuing to grow each week. We are hopeful that this funding along with other community support and donations will sustain us through the school year,” Barrett said.
While community members often donate items, the Zion endowment will ensure that each child will receive a bag filled with two breakfasts, two lunches, a fruit and snacks every Friday. These bags are discreetly dropped off to student lockers or picked up by family members. Finding nutritious, nonperishable items that are easy enough for even a kindergartner to open or prepare can be a challenge. With the grant, Barrett said, students will be guaranteed to have a reliable, healthy option for weekend meals.
“We’ve seen the need go up with the rise in grocery prices. People are shocked, but we do have people living in poverty out here. It just looks different,” Barrett said.
Thankfully, she’s seen families rebound and no longer need services. When that happens, they often end up donating or volunteering to help someone else.
“The families we have been able to help over the years have been so appreciative,” she said.
Students in need of weekend food assistance can sign up through a school counselor or by emailing Barrett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The AWCFM grant is one of 20 grants totaling $158,500 given to nonprofit organizations this year, said Michael Scheiding, a Zion member who coordinates the grants.
Other local recipients this year include Cherry Street Mission Ministries, which received $11,000 to purchase new mattresses for its shelter; Haskins Com-munity Church, which received $7,500 to send area youths to summer camp; and Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity, which will use $4,000 for its 2023 Faith Build.
A Faith Build is an opportunity for members of the faith community – including those from churches, synagogues and mosques – to get together and put God’s love into action, said Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity corporate engagement manager Nate Reid.
This year’s build benefits Jeremiah Fields, who will move into 5707 Clover St. with his teenage son Jayleon. Jeremiah works full time and rents a house in a dangerous neighborhood. The landlord doesn’t take care of maintenance issues, and the home has been hit by bullets several times.
“I can better my son’s future by purchasing a home in an area with a better school and close to no violence,” Jeremiah said of the home, where he’s invested over 200 hours of sweat equity. He’ll purchase the home at a 0-percent interest rate.
“For each build, we try to raise $75,000 to close the gap, so we get as many groups as possible to volunteer or to help out financially,” Reid said. “Funding from the Zion Endowment Fund helped close that gap.”
Other grants in Northwest Ohio include $11,000 to Luther Home of Mercy in Williston for residents’ bedroom furniture and $8,500 to Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission for lead paint remediation. A grant of $9,250 to Nightingales Harvest will fund a freezer and high-protein food for cancer patients in Toledo. Nuestra Gente Community Projects received $4,500 for its food pantry in South Toledo. Funding of $8,250 will help Compassion Health Toledo repurpose the former Mott Library into a community health clinic.
Additionally, Spirit of Faith Adoptions received a grant of $5,000 for its Fireweed retreats for birth mothers in Northwest Ohio. Monarch Grief Center in Perrysburg was granted $4,000 to help with the cost of bereavement counseling. Youth mentoring and leadership programs at the East Toledo Family Center will benefit from a $5,000 grant. Butterflies 15 will use $3,000 to help with its recovery-centered life skills, job and housing services.
The Northwestern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America received two grants of $10,000 each. One will support the Fremont-based Camino de Vida ministry, which focuses on discipleship, feeding the hungry and ministering to seasonal farmworkers. The other will pay for lay leader training, including travel costs, throughout Northwest Ohio.
Trinity Lutheran Sem-inary at Capital University in Columbus received a grant of $5,000 to improve accessibility and upgrade technology in its worship center.
Trinity also will receive $10,000 in scholarship funding for a member of Zion who plans to attend the seminary. Jennifer Gall-agher is a longtime member of Zion who began her studies at Trinity in August. In pursuing her master’s degree in divinity, Gallagher will have two years of classes and two years of internship or field experience before being ordained and called into ministry.
Lutheran World Relief received $15,000 to be used for humanitarian relief in war-torn Ukraine and in Turkey, which suffered a devastating earthquake. SewHope is focused on improving health and education in Guatemala. Funding of $9,000 will be used for clean-burning stoves, water filters, solar lights and supplies for at-home gardening. Have Faith Haiti Mission is a U.S. organization that supports an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. A grant of $5,500 will go toward a nursery and the creation of an early childhood development program at the orphanage.
The Mission Endowment Fund was started after a $3.6 million donation from Doug and Katie Graf, longtime members who devoted time and tithes to the church.
The congregation agreed to a plan to give away 90 percent and keep 10 percent – a type of reverse tithe. Since 2005, Zion’s Mission Endowment Fund has awarded grants totaling $2,154,300. Applicants are sponsored by Zion’s members. Recipients include a broad range of regional, national and global nonprofit organizations that share the fund’s goal of “Bringing Mission to Life.”
On Sunday, October 15, all current-year recipients are invited to come to the 10:00 a.m. service and coffee hour to meet each other and Zion members. The public is welcome. Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church is located at 22 N. Second St., Water-ville.
For information, visit www.zionlutheranwaterville.org.