“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink.”
That verse, which comes from the Book of Matthew, is in Chapter 25 of the book and speaks of God’s will to be there for people in hunger, thirst, and sickness among other needs.
On Saturday afternoon (July 30), the Hands of Grace outreach ministry did exactly that as Darrin Miller, Carmen Josey, and nearly 20 additional individuals helped serve a total of 160 people during its monthly outreach meeting, which was held on 17th Street and Kendall Avenue in Wayne Hills from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
For Miller, the turnout — which was the best that he had seen in his involvement with Hands of Grace — made it hard for him to find the appropriate words.
“It was just beautiful,” Miller said. “I could cry right now. I could. I just love this. It’s beautiful. There were a lot of people who were in need, and they got their needs met today. This is the most people that we’ve ever fed, and they were getting clothes, too. This was just a beautiful day. I’m just so happy. I’m so happy for them.”
Since its formation in March of 2016, Hands of Grace has one main goal — to sacrifice time in order to help individuals and families in dire need of the everyday essentials that humans need in order to live — while offering up a place of fellowship for people who simply want to converse with other individuals, pray, or share the word of God.
The nonprofit organization, which was formed via a joint effort between Dry Run Church of Christ in West Portsmouth, the Salvation Army, Living Faith Temple, and Pleasant Green Baptist Church — the latter trio being centered in Portsmouth — has added Christ Temple, which is also located in Portsmouth, and First Church of Christ, a Wheelersburg ministry, in a year and a half.
“That’s what it’s about,” Miller said. “When we come out, we don’t want to go back with a full slate of clothes or food. We want people who are in need to come out and get this stuff. If you read that whole scripture (Matthew chapter 25, verse 35), that’s what it means. When we’re old, He comes and visits, when we’re sick, He comes and visits, when we’re in the hospital, He comes and visits. That just epitomizes what we do.”
Throughout the two hours that Hands of Grace set up shop right in the middle of the Wayne Hills area, each of the 160 individuals that showed up to the gathering grabbed a hot meal, which consisted of either a hamburger or a hot dog, chips, and a drink, which consisted of either lemonade or water. At least 140 of those individuals stayed to pick up clothes — which included shoes, socks, pants, dress shirts, and casual shirts, among other items of clothing — toys, and books during the two-hour gathering.
In addition to the good-hearted efforts of the Hands of Grace staff, a half-dozen Wayne Hills residents even stayed around to help Hands of Grace personnel in breaking down the tables and bagging up the remaining clothes that were left over following the conclusion of the event.
“I told my wife (Trudi) that I couldn’t hardly sleep last night,” Miller said. “I was so excited in anticipation of what today would bring. Even with that excitement coming into today, what I saw exceeded my expectations. I noticed that the people that are living here in Wayne Hills were even helping us break down after it was all over, and there were several people who were coming and thanking others for the food and the clothes that they received. I would hear people, as they were coming to get their food and drink, say ‘This is a good thing that you all are doing. Thank you all for doing this.’ I heard that several times today. That’s what our goal is. We’re trying to impact lives and encourage people to give back to others and show people that others care.”
And ultimately, Miller believes that will pay off in the minds of those whom they served.
“Everybody’s greatful to get a plate, whether they say it or not,” Miller said. “I believe that they are thankful and grateful.”
The next Hands of Grace outreach event will be held on Saturday, Aug. 19. According to Josey, the Tools for Schools program has been extended to Friday, Aug. 18, and individuals can take their school supplies or donations to Applebee’s in New Boston, American Savings Bank, Eagle Loan, Glockner’s Toyota, and The Salvation Army.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7