Highland Park serves soup, help

Helen Garrison, left, and Tracy Arden pack boxes of food before distribution Saturday.

Highland Park Baptist Church in Lenoir City launched Saturday a new From Our Hearts to Your Home ministry.

Spearheaded by Tracy Arden, the effort partnered with Helen Garrison’s food box ministry to deliver soup and other food items to people in need on the first Saturday of each month.

The ministry began at Springplace Apartments where Arden and Garrison delivered various soups, crackers and cornbread to the 75 residents. Arden asked church members to make soup or chili. People outside the church also got involved, and anyone who made soup dropped it off Saturday morning at the church.

Arden has felt “burdened” for those in need. When she heard someone talking about Garrison’s food pantry and how people come to get the food, the idea was born.

“With all this COVID going on, older people don’t want to get out, and so with that I just called Helen and said, ‘Can we go mobile? Can we take it to people that need it?’ And I thought we should feed them, not only take a food box but feed them,” Arden said. “… I’m remembering my great aunt who had rheumatoid arthritis and she can’t open anything, so I was trying to think what we could feed them. ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ came to my mind, and I thought soup. So I called Helen and I said, ‘Soup. We need to feed them soup to warm their stomachs and warm their hearts’.”

Garrison hopes the budding soup ministry will help the food pantry grow.

“I started with the food pantry a couple years ago,” she said. “We had not really done anything with it in the last several years before I got it, and we did have food in it, but nobody was taking the food. So I got to checking and just about all of the food was out of date, so I just had to start from scratch.”

Since Garrison took over the food pantry, it typically has no more than six participants at a time, and they’re all from outside the church. She’s hoping to turn the food pantry into a regular, monthly occurrence in conjunction with the soup ministry.

A blessing box outside the church, however, has been successful. Garrison said food usually doesn’t stay in the box for more than a day, so she knows there’s a need.

Arden and Garrison plan to feed people inside and outside of the church.

“We want to stick to the widows and widowers in the church and the sick in the church, as well as people down the road, anybody that we know outside of our church that is sick, that needs help, that is elderly, that’s where we’re going to go,” Garrison said.

“Or even if they’re not elderly,” Arden added. “They could be 30 years old and just need something and sometimes it’s that contact that they need more than anything.”

Arden was inspired by the Rev. Eddie Click’s recent sermons on spiritual awakening. Click is pastor at Highland Park.

“It’s just a way for us to reach out to the community and help people during this time of COVID,” Click said. “I know a lot of people have needs, and a lot of people are out of work. A lot of people are struggling to eat, and it’s just a way that we can help.”