I have been at Coker UMC with my family since 1997. Danny had actually been a member at Coker since 1960 but, after we were married and moved back to San Antonio, we had belonged to another church. The move put us in a much larger church than before so I was a little uneasy getting involved at first.
I gradually participated more and more in events and activities other than worship services. I knew Linda because we taught together at Northern Hills Elementary so we often did things together.
We belonged to the same UMW Circle, Faith and Hope, and worked together on activities that were sponsored by the group. Our circle was small but had a bond among the women that participated.
We also both helped with the distribution of the Angel Food Project. The delivery was made to Coker’s parking lot very early on the first Saturday morning of the month. Many other churches would come to pick up their orders of food to take back to their campuses. We helped with that distribution. We also took it on as a ministry as teachers in that we would get names of 2 or 3 families in need from our school counselor and we purchased one of the food packages for each of those families. So after the distribution, we would head off to the homes of our student families and deliver some needed groceries for them. It was a great ending to an early morning’s work to see the faces of the people receiving the food. I know God’s hand was in our work as we helped families with health problems or families that had been through a loss as well as families that just needed a little extra for that month.
However, that project came to end. We were both still teaching and the Coker Food Pantry opened shortly after. They quickly expanded their ministry from just food distribution to helping with back to school supplies and the Backpack Project came to be. Sharon and Mike Ford headed it, as well as the work of the pantry, for the first couple of years. But, just as I was about to retire, there was a notice in the bulletin looking for someone to take over heading the project. Linda and I jumped on along with Barb Keepers to do this. We had helped Sharon a little but we were ready to take this on and help our pantry families in another way and to help their children be prepared for the school year to come.
I know God followed us through everything we did to get ready for the distribution of supplies. He was always pointing the way but, I have to admit in looking back, quite often I was not always open to his word. There were times of frustration, impatience, and anger that came about that really were not needed if I had just “Given it to God” and listened.
I do think we have learned some very important lessons through the seven or eight years we have been heading this. God does always show us the way to do what is right. God leads others to help out in times of need so you are never alone. God calls on us to be generous in helping others. God rewards our hearts when we take in these lessons!
This project always involves the actions of so many cheerful givers. We had many that donated the supplies on the list and many that gave monetary donations to help with the shopping. These donations come from individuals and also from groups within the church. There are others that come to help sort and pack the backpacks. We also have many volunteers that come to help with distribution. The custodians help us set up and take down everything in the gym and outside for the big day. The office staff always finds us a place to store the supplies each year and sometimes that is not an easy job. The staff also has helped out whenever we need something for this event.
This year, as with everything else, we had to do things a little different but it again showed us some lessons that we have planned to continue in the future even if we’re not in a pandemic! Covid 19 did not slow down the participation of our Coker members either. Again, the supplies were able to be purchased and the project ran smoothly, just in a little bit different way.
So there are many hearts and hands that are active throughout the summer to help with the success of putting backpacks in the hands of our pantry family children. I know God is leading us all to help our community and to do it with love. I have been blessed so much by this mission.
To Read Linda Nolder’s “I Am At Coker” Article, Click HERE
To Donate to Coker’s Angel Gifts, Backpack Give-Away, or Food Pantry, Click HERE
Lori featured in this phot serving at our Food Pantry alongside her daughter during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.