For over 20 years, Walnut Creek UMC in Warsaw has annually collected peanut butter and jelly to support the Choice Pantry of The Salvation Army.
“The only year that has been missed was 2020 when we couldn’t meet in person.” said Rev. Stacy Downing, senior pastor at Walnut Creek and Warsaw Celebration UMCs.
In 2022, Walnut Creek’s new outreach director visited the Choice Pantry to get to know them as one of the church’s ministry partners. He returned to the congregation reflecting their dire needs due to increased demand, not just for peanut butter and jelly but also for pasta, sauce, and cereal, which were critically-low staples.
Walnut Creek frequently partners with Celebration since the two share a pastor. But for this initiative, they invited four additional Kosiusko County United Methodist churches: Warsaw Trinity, Warsaw First, Atwood Aldersgate, and Clunette.
Together, the churches launched the Feed My Sheep competition between two teams, Team Peanut Butter and Jelly (Walnut Creek, Celebration, and Trinity) and Team Pasta and Cereal (First, Atwood Aldersgate, and Clunette).
The team that collected the most items during the months of September and October won the trophy, a crocheted sheep made by clergy spouse Pam Bahrt from North Manchester UMC.
The churches took the challenge seriously, which inspired some competitiveness. “It was definitely all in good fun,” said Stacy. “We were all SO pleased with our final numbers and the impact it had in a low donation time for the pantry.”
In the end, Team Pasta and Cereal won with 1,366 items. Ultimately, though, it was the Choice Pantry which truly won, as they received 2,370 collective donations.
“The Salvation Army Choice Pantry has over 200 families that shop each month for food to supplement their family budgets,” said Ken Locke, Community Ministries Coordinator for The Salvation Army. “The donations of peanut butter, jelly, and other items from these United Methodist Churches greatly support us in helping others in the name of Jesus!”
For 2023, the pastors of Walnut Creek, Trinity, First, Atwood Aldersgate, and Clunette are hoping to recruit at least three new churches to join in the challenge. This year, the Feed My Sheep collection begins August 13 and will deliver to the pantry on September 10.
The donations of peanut butter, jelly, and other items from these United Methodist Churches greatly support us in helping others in the name of Jesus!