By Tom Campisi
One week before Thanksgiving, a team of volunteers, pastors, and prayer warriors joined Star of Hope Ministries in a large-scale operation to distribute Boxes of Love. It’s an annual outreach, and a labor of love.
On November 17, the spacious facility of Grace Redeemer in Glen Rock, NJ served as the pick-up location for churches from the Greater Paterson area. The pastors and their teams arrived in 15-minute intervals and church vans and cars were loaded with Boxes of Love that contain all the essential food items for a Thanksgiving meal and a voucher for a turkey. Churches then delivered the boxes to needy families.
“We want to support churches and help with resources so that they can better serve their communities,” said Pastor Matt Andersen, executive director of Star of Hope. “We call it a Box of Love because it’s also a way for them to build relationships, deliver love.”
Spreading the love and providing some relief is especially important this year, as many families are struggling to purchase food for Thanksgiving and for every-day living due to rising costs.
“It’s a challenge for working-class families who may be at or below the poverty level,” Andersen said. “Sometimes, a little bit of relief can have a ripple effect because it can help families buy something they need for their children, or maybe have an extra little bit of money so that they can go to a movie with their family.”
Each year, Star of Hope Ministries collects food from participating churches, businesses, schools, and individuals for the Boxes of Love outreach. With the help of dozens of volunteers, those boxes are assembled. This year, over 2,200 boxes were distributed over the course of three days to churches in Paterson, Newark, and Willingboro.
“This is by far one of the most important initiatives Star of Hope coordinates,” Andersen said. “It’s a collective efforts of more than 125 churches and nonprofit organizations around North Jersey—hundreds of families helping hundreds of families in need.”
“As Christians, we believe the Church is the center for all physical, mental, and spiritual healing in a community. The Boxes of Love opens the door for churches and pastors to begin to build a relationship with individuals and families in their neighborhoods.”
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The mission of Star of Hope, founded 109 years ago, is “to strengthen and increase the capacities of more than 100 churches, schools, and service organizations and address pain and poverty through leadership development, job and entrepreneur training and resource development.”
At the Grace Redeemer Box of Love distribution, Star of Hope invited 13 non-profit ministries to set up tables and offer information about their services to churches who picked up the Boxes of Love. Representatives from participating churches were also prayed for by Star of Hope staff and volunteers.
The goal of the Boxes of Love outreach is to “point people to a relationship [with churches in their communities], so that, ultimately, they can be pointed to a relationship with Christ as well,” said Andersen.
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