Turkey Outreach is not a just one-time event. It’s an opportunity to build relationships with families.
In Loudoun County, we have the opportunity to build relationships with about 950 families on November 21st simply by delivering Thanksgiving meals.
“Most people don’t understand that there really is a need,” said Guy Goddard, MBC volunteer. “There are people even in this area who cannot afford to go all out and get everything for one meal. Then when we deliver the meal,” he said, “we have the opportunity to say, ‘This is why we’re doing it.’”
Outreach Pastor Dave Kroeze said, “The reality is, I don’t have enough time in my day to personally engage every family in relationship.” Ideally, Dave would be able to determine each family’s needs and dreams and begin to point them in the direction of a relationship with Jesus.
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Discovering Needs and Meeting Them
When we deliver the meals, we offer to pray for families. “I can think of one situation where McLean people were invited in,” said Denise O’Kane, retired parent liaison at Catoctin Elementary. “McLean found out that the home needed repairs and did them.”
MBC Loudoun partners not only with schools, but also with the Loudoun Adult Detention Center and other community organizations.
“There was one year of Turkey Outreach that I’m sure we saved a life,” said John Donahue, MBC volunteer and former Assistant Chaplain at the Loudoun Adult Detention Center. “I delivered a box to a woman whose son was incarcerated. While talking to her, I said, ‘It’s cold in here.’
“She said she didn’t have any heat for 3 days because she couldn’t pay the bill. ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do,’ she said. ‘My son was providing a lot of the income.’” John called the police and stayed until she was able to get a grant to get the heat turned back on. “I got a phone call from her later saying, ‘Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!’”
When a need is discovered, the Holy Spirit moves volunteers to act.
Turkey Outreach Can Lead to Gifts of Joy
For example, Meredith Kroeze, Resource Teacher at Creighton’s Corner Elementary and MBC Loudoun volunteer said that while playing kickball with one of the kids, “we found out what the kids wanted for Christmas. That led to McLean providing Christmas gifts through our Gifts of Joy ministry.”
Gifts of Joy is MBC’s gift giving ministry at Christmastime (formerly called “Angel Tree”). You choose a tag from the tree and purchase the requested item. Volunteers then deliver the gifts to families before Christmas.
The Parent Liaison and the counselors at Creighton’s Corner had identified 29 students for whom they wanted to provide Christmas gifts. Another church provided for 10, and the school was trying to figure out how to support the other 19 using their liaison budget. But McLean, because of their relationship with the school for Turkey Outreach, discovered the need and provided for the other 19. Not only were the students blessed, but the school staff were taken aback by all the gifts that were coming in. “The staff notice what McLean is doing and were really touched,” said Meredith.
“Because I work there, I knew what each student was getting for Christmas,” Meredith said. “A third-grade girl wanted Scrabble so that she could get better at words. She came back after the break and said, ‘I can’t believe that I got what I asked for!’ She was just so excited to come back to school to tell me!”
Turkey Outreach Becomes Year Round
As Denise said, “You know, people come out of the woodwork at Thanksgiving and Christmas to help (those less fortunate), but come January, it’s ‘See ya.’ But kids and families need things year round. McLean helps year round.”
“For example,” Denise explained, “our summer school was canceled a couple years ago. McLean helped us make our own summer school. It never could’ve happened without McLean volunteers. Turkey Outreach becomes year round, making Turkey Outreach more than Turkey Outreach.”
Families, Discipleship Groups, Individuals—Everyone Volunteers
It’s not just the receiving families who benefit from Turkey Outreach. Volunteers benefit, too.
“We have brought our kids (with us to volunteer) for the last two years,” said Brian Nyugen, MBC Loudoun volunteer. “Our oldest is 5, and the youngest is 2.”
“Last year was our favorite year,” Brian said. “People from our small group served together. It’s a very accessible volunteer activity. It’s low commitment. It’s easy for people who are not used to serving.”
“We were there for the very first Turkey Outreach,” said Pam Harris, MBC Loudoun volunteer. “We always brought our son, who was 6 years old that first year.”
“Now he’s 26,” Pam’s husband Ron Harris said. “He still serves.”
“Last year we served with our discipleship group,” Pam said. “It was moving to them, so they wanted to serve again this year.”
“Our group has been trying to serve together,” Ron said. “We serve together at the homeless shelter. As a group, we feel called to action.”
Claudia Rabe, Caring Connections Coordinator for Embrace Catoctin (an MBC Loudoun volunteer), said that through Turkey Outreach, she is “able to pray with people and find out what their needs are. When we’re at school, we’re careful not to mix school and church. But because we’re able to deliver the turkey boxes to homes, we can have a more open conversation.”
Being involved in Turkey Outreach just might change you.
“Turkey Outreach has developed me in a way that I’ve grown to understand the importance of interacting with people,” said Greg Lilly, MBC Loudoun volunteer. “It’s a growth process. I started out packing and then eventually got out on the front end, meeting and talking to people.”
“To me, it’s being Jesus with skin on,” Pam said. “We’re not just praying. It’s love in action.”
Turkey Outreach—“It’s anointed. It really is!” John said.
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