World Harvest Church Elkhart giving away 40,000 pounds of food a week

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ELKHART, Ind. - Elkhart County spent many months in Indiana's Red, most at-risk of COVID spread category. It has since moved into the blue, least at-risk category, but that move didn't mean an end to the struggles the pandemic brought many people there.

World Harvest Church Elkhart spent February trying to help out.

As part of a food drive put on by all World Harvest Churches across the United States, the Elkhart Campus spent an hour and a half each Sunday of February giving out more than 40,000 pounds of food to those in need.

Sunday World Harvest Church's celebrated two million pounds given out.

"We know that people in our community need food, but more than that, they need hope," World Harvest Church Elkhart Pastor Nate Calaway said. "We want to just offer that hope to those people."

This drive was supposed to only go through Sunday, the last day of February, but demand and continued donations led to an extension.

"They said we've been approved for all of March and into the end of April, and if it keeps going, we'll keep going to," Calaway said.

In less than two hours, volunteers distributed more than 40,000 pounds of food Sunday to community members. Those picking up the food said it gave them a chance to help out their friends and family as well.

"They're definitely appreciative for it," said Michael Carpenter who came to pick up food for his family. "Some people aren't able to get out and about. Times being the way they are, with different ailments and things, it's definitely a blessing to be able to help someone else."

Calaway said he wanted this drive to be a way to reach out to the community. Community members responded in masses.

"The smiles of the people being helped, knowing that we're helping folks," said Scott Rutledge, the JROTC instructor at Elkhart High School who brought some of his cadets to help distribute food. "The kids are having fun. All they're doing is putting boxes in cars, but they're having a good time doing it, and the World Harvest Church here has definitely taken care of us."

The Elkhart Fire Department also came to help distribute food.

"Some people that usually come out couldn't come out because they're elderly," Rodney Dale, the assistant chief of the Elkhart Fire Department, said. "So, some of us took boxes into our personal vehicles and took them to them so they could still get their food. That went really well."

Others, like Denis Wuthrich, also picked up food to bring to others. Only, Wuthrich was supplying a distribution of his own.

"We come up here on Sunday to pick up food," Wuthrich said. "Then, we take this food, and it goes to Ligonier, Indiana where we'll distribute it this afternoon, yet because there's a real need in Ligonier."

This kind of community impact had Calaway excited for the future of the drive.

"It means a great deal to us that people are coming from all over Michiana to get food, but also then to take back what we're giving them and distribute it in their neighborhoods, their communities," Calaway said. "Some of our church people, they're taking in 20 or 30 boxes and giving it to their direct neighborhood. That means a lot because it's not just us, but we're cloning ourselves. We're duplicating ourselves outside of just our four walls."

Calaway said this year has been the biggest this food drive has ever seen. He said if you want to participate in either receiving food or volunteering, you can just come to World Harvest Church Elkhart on Sunday at noon when distribution starts. The drive will continue each Sunday until the end of April.

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