By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Doug Gatchall, pastor of House of Refuge Church, stands outside Newkirk High School mid afternoon, Nov. 19, watching as students load multiple boxes of groceries into two full-sized pickups parked outside the back doors. Moments later, those vehicles are parked at the church fellowship hall, where five high school students and a community volunteer take those same loads into the church. He stands in awe at the volume of food moving through the door.
“This is amazing,” he says. “This is perfect timing, because some of our shelves have been going empty.”
It is also perfect timing for the Newkirk community, as it is one of the most difficult times of the year for those who are hurting and in need, and more than 3,000 food items have been collected for those suffering.
The food drive is an annual event sponsored by NHS groups Culture Club and National Honor Society. The event is meant to pit all four NHS grades against one another to see who can bring in the most items, all of which will benefit residents and families inside the Newkirk community. The winning grade will receive a pizza party.
This isn’t about pizza, however, as it will touch Newkirk the core of the community, helping hose who may not be able to put food on the table.
“It helps with all the people that can’t afford food, and it’s a good thing to do, since Thanksgiving is coming this week,” said Samantha Simpson.
The food will be distributed to the community through the House of Refuge Church, located on North Main Street in Newkirk.
Saturday morning, Nov. 20, Gatchell is still trying to comprehend the amount of food that came through the food drive.
“I’m still speechless, amazed, I’m beside myself,” he said. “At the school I was holding back tears when they said it was coming to the food bank.”
The House of Refuge food bank serves many groups in Newkirk, and each gets a different offering, based on what is available.
For those who are homeless, they get a bag of food items they can prepare quickly, such as with a microwave oven at a convenience store. That may include soup cups, ramen noodles, or other items easily heated when one doesn’t have access to a stove.
Those that do have a home must provide identification and a current utility bill, which will indicate they have a means of cooking meals for their family. They will then receive a box of items that can feed a family for several weeks.
“Base on the family’s eating habits, it may last two weeks,” he said. “They get a little bit of of everything.”
Feeding Newkirk’s needy takes a lot of work, a lot of donations, but with the new donations, a total of 3,077 food items, have set a new record for the most number of items collected in the food drive. Due to that, the entire school will receive a pizza party.
There are many life lessons to be learned through a food drive.
“NPS is enriching more than just academics. We have to allow our students to grow in many areas, including service,” NPS Superintendent Scott Kempenich said. “Our students are some of the best around, and that shows how amazing NPS is.”
It also shows that Newkirk is willing to step up and make it possible for people to have a better life.
“It shows how Newkirk is willing to help anyone in need,” said Cierra Usary. “It helps people who can’t afford food or are in need of food.”