“I felt like a church of this magnitude should give back,” said senior pastor Charles Faulks. “This is what Matthew 25 tells us to do. If we really want to be a church in this neighborhood, that means giving out clothes and food.”
They call the project Heart to Hands Ministry. Church member Jon Dooley, 55, first started attending the church at the beginning of last year, about the same time that Faulks began as pastor.
“I just went up to him and asked what his plans were for outreach,” Dooley said. “This is our first project to get the church back in the community. I've done this in other cities, and this is something we needed. I tell people 'I'm not looking to reinvent the wheel, just expand it.'”
Dooley and other church members have offered clothes and food at the church for the last three months. Dooley gets food from different organizations, and a love offering is taken at the church the first Sunday of every month. Many church members have donated their own clothes for the back-to-school season, Faulks said.
Dooley estimated about 150 to 200 people attend the church every week, and the volunteers are all members of the church, said youth pastor Christian Antonio.
“We know there's a lot of poverty in Tyler,” Antonio said.
“We want everyone who comes in here to be able to get something,” he said.
Gregory Franklin, 54, has visited the pantry and clothes closet three times since it's been open. He does odd jobs around town, he said, but it's difficult for him to earn enough money to eat, he said.
“We can see there's a big need for something like this in Tyler,” said LaVelle Tinner, one of church members who volunteers with the effort. “The Lord commands us to care for others; we just want to do our part. I don't think you can ever get enough of this kind of thing.”