MILL CREEK — The interior of Advent Lutheran Church was packed and Carolyn Johnson raised her voice to be heard.
Johnson was the coordinator of the congregation’s food basket committee, and on a recent Saturday morning, up to 200 people volunteered to fill grocery bags and deliver them to 225 families in need.
The church has been doing food drives since the 1990s, so it has it down to a system: food organized into stacks, number of items indicated on each bag, tape on the floor to show where the bags go, turkeys outside in the cold awaiting loading into the cars.
People moved through the room like an assembly line, filling the bags at each station. The weather was threatening to complicate the delivery, however.
“I know it’s spitting snow, but it’s not snowing,” Johnson emphasized.
“Yes, it is!” someone from the back of the room said.
“No, it isn’t!” Johnson insisted.
The line quickly stretched outside, where fat flakes were sticking to the sidewalk and grass.
Brian and Kim Hall came out with their children, Hailey, Hannah and Logan, to pack bags.
“We try to do it if we’re available. With three kids you never know,” Brian Hall said.
“To be able to help 200-plus families is a great thing to do,” he said.
Jacob Varghese, who moved from Hershey, Pennsylvania, two years ago, stood in the snow with his wife, Shoba, and their daughters, Hannah, Naomi and Abigail.
“We’re Lutherans so it was kind of an easy choice” to join the church two years ago, Varghese said.
“The church does great things for the community, so it’s fun to participate,” he said.
The line cycled through. Most of the families being served have five or fewer members, but some have more than eight children, Johnson said, and one of the families has 13 kids, she added.
Volunteers of America identified most of the families they would support this year, but others were found through partnerships the church has with Penny Creek Elementary School, Evergreen Middle School, the YWCA’s Pathways For Women shelter in Lynnwood and Edmonds Lutheran Church. Sometimes, a family in need calls in on their own.
“One of the things we talk about is living our faith,” said Pastor Scott Postlewait, who has led the congregation since 2013.
“This is one of the ways this congregation organically does it,” Postlewait said.
This year the church raised more than $12,200 to pay for the groceries, which included canned goods, turkeys, milk, fresh vegetables and other necessities like paper towels.
“It’s wonderful outreach,” said Gloria Lynch, waiting in line to bag more groceries. “This church is good with outreach.”