By John Fulton
Valley Family Church (VFC) of Kalamazoo took its FridayGroceries program on the road as part of the church’s fourth annual Love Week from July 26-Aug 1. The first stop was in Vicksburg at the Historic Village under the pavilion. More than 125 families were able to pick up free groceries and 75 filled back-to-school backpacks for school-age children as part of the give-away. A total of 2,533 pounds of food was given away at the event.
Senior VFC Pastors Jeff and Beth Jones recently moved to the Vicksburg Community. Beth Jones said she and her husband recognize many people are struggling financially and need help getting kids back to school with supplies. “VFC just wants to bless Vicksburg and other communities in southwest Michigan. Love Week has been a joy for the church and its members to be involved with.” She also gave a big shout of thanks to the volunteers.
Love Week is an ongoing outreach program at VFC that started four years ago. The mission is to love, give and serve others with no strings attached. Volunteers have put in over 5,600 hours loving, serving and giving to communities around Southwest Michigan since the program’s start. Mark Worden, Volunteer Coordinator, is a dedicated volunteer at FridayGroceries and instrumental in the 2015 Love Week program. “A lot of people out here need help,” he said. “We are supposed to help each other and providing food is one of the most basic and best ways to help.”
There were 60-plus volunteers for the Vicksburg outreach event. They showed up with trucks and trailers full of food and supplies to make the give-away possible. There were two bounce houses for kids to romp in. The VCrew, as the volunteers are known, also served up hot dogs and cold water to all those in attendance from 6-8 p.m. on Monday, July 27th. Matt Munson, Executive Pastor of Community Care at VFC, said VFC and its members wanted to show the love of Jesus to the community in a very practical way. “Giving out food and filled back packs for kids was an opportunity to set foot in a community and show kindness, generosity and offer a hand up to somebody that needs it.”
Jon Martin, VFC outreach director said, “Over 125 families came to Vicksburg to pick up groceries and backpacks. This was an opportunity to love, serve and give to the community. That is what we do. And a lot of people got it tonight.” Other communities were able to “get it” during Love Week. Three Rivers, Comstock, Lawton, Plainwell and Kalamazoo were to be included in the program.
For those living in southwest Michigan and needing help with food on a regular basis, the FridayGroceries give-away is available at the Cathedral on the main campus of VFC at 2500 Vincent Rd. in Portage. Groceries are given out from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday. In 2014, FridayGroceries fed over 29,000 people with 88 tons of food.
VFC operates the Thrift Store at 8500 Shaver Road in Portage. The proceeds fund outreach programs and the FridayGroceries program is the main beneficiary. Those wishing to support the FridayGroceries program can do so by shopping at or donating household and clothing items to the Thrift Store Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
VFC at 269-324-5599 and its website, valleyfamilychurch.org, has more information about FridayGroceries, the Thrift Store, Valley Family Church or events and service times.