Faith and Spiritual Life: Church shows compassion by the busload

EVERETT — In what was once an empty warehouse, the Everett Food Bank once again is a bustling hive of activity as charitable donations arrive almost hourly, and by the carloads.

Or in the case of Christian Faith Center, by the busload.

The Volunteers of America announced Aug. 8 their food stores were waning. They asked the public for help filling the emptying shelves.

“The public has a misconception that we exist on donations strictly from the government, when in fact we rely on community food drives,” said Phil Smith, a vice president for the Volunteers of America. “We supply food to 20 other food banks. We are a supplemental food service for a lot of people.”

According to outreach specialist Patricia Leach, the Volunteers of America provides food for 130 to 160 households a day. “It’s an ongoing community need,” Leach said.

So when the call for help went out, the Volunteers of America knew that community response would be essential for continued food bank operations.

Enter Christian Faith Center.

Pastor Jerry McClain, head of Christian Faith Center’s HELP program had seen the coverage on the food shortage and quickly called Pastors Casey and Wendy Treat.

“I told them what I heard, that the shelves are empty. So let’s take the responsibility to fill it up,” McClain said.

That Sunday, Casey Treat announced from the pulpit in both Mill Creek and Seattle a food drive to help the Everett Food Bank. Nearly three weeks later, they had gathered nearly 8,000 pounds of food. It took buses to transport.

“We called ahead and told them we were bringing some food,” McClain said. “They thought we were bringing a few carloads of food. You should have seen their faces when they saw the busses. They were like ‘Woah!’”

Even on the day of the deadline for donations, congregants at Christian Faith Center would leave after service only to return an hour later with donations from their own pantries or sacks of groceries from the supermarket.

McClain remembers one fellow in particular who had forgotten his donation for that Sunday, yet had to go to work right after church. Noticeably upset, he left that afternoon but returned early Monday morning with a generous donation.

“He represented our heart to give,” McClain said.

Though the Everett Food Bank currently has 90,000 pounds of food, continued donations to the Volunteers of America are essential.

Their biggest need? A refrigerated truck.

“We need a refrigerated truck to pick up donations of perishable food from all over the county,” Smith said.

Reporter Justin Arnold: 425-339-3432 or

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