Maybe a paycheck doesn’t last through the month. Maybe it’s between trips to a food bank. Maybe all the grocery money went for car repairs.
For whatever reasons, cupboards are bare. If you haven’t been there, you can’t know what that’s like. I can scarcely imagine being destitute, getting up and having nothing healthy to feed my child for breakfast — or lunch or dinner.
Up on Highway 92, needy people make their way several times each week to a church between Lake Stevens and Granite Falls. Most of them have never set foot in Holy Cross Catholic Church. The parish of about 300 households opened a year ago, combining members of an old church in Granite Falls with Catholics from Lake Stevens, who previously had no church.
It’s food, not worship, that draws some visitors.
“There are other food banks, but this is to tide people over. It’s part of our outreach,” said Steve Homiack, administrator of Holy Cross parish. “If you need a bag or two, maybe you have some kids, hopefully this will get you through.”
Last weekend, Homiack was discouraged to find that for the second time since New Year’s, food intended for the needy had been stolen from a storage shed. A heavy padlock was broken and food donated by parishioners or collected by volunteers was gone.
He suspects it happened Saturday night. “They took canned goods, packaged goods, probably what they could haul out on foot,” Homiack said. “You just look at it and go, OK, people are hurting. People come here in need.”
Holy Cross has a church building, a separate parish hall, and the shed. In January, Homiack said, a hinge on the shed was damaged and food stolen. This time, the thief or thieves cut the padlock.
Homiack reported the theft Sunday, and a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy, David Harkins, came to the church, he said. “We had heavy-duty locks on there. They used some pretty big bolt cutters,” Homiack said. Several new winter coats were also taken, he added.
“It’s frustrating,” said Rebecca Hover, spokeswoman for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. “People are in need more than ever, and good people are coming together to help.”
Hover said the Sheriff’s Office hasn’t detected a spike in crime related to the tough economy. “That doesn’t mean it’s not coming. All those food banks are going to be critical in our community in the months ahead,” she said.
Unlike some Catholic churches in Everett and other cities, Holy Cross doesn’t have a St. Vincent de Paul charity food bank. And while Volunteers of America food banks in Everett, Marysville and other cities serve thousands, the outreach efforts of Holy Cross are small – small but crucial.
Even before the new church was built, the Very Rev. Joseph “Jay” DeFolco, its pastor, fostered the outreach ministry, Homiack said. Volunteers now go weekly to supermarkets to pick up food, and church members bring their own donations.
Needy people come to Holy Cross from 1 to 3 p.m. Mondays, 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, and 10 a.m. to noon Fridays for groceries, free transit passes and other help. Compared with urban areas, it’s a place with few social services. “We’re one of the main providers out here,” Homiack said.
As crime goes, some missing food is small potatoes. For the 10 or so people who find their way to Holy Cross whenever food is given out, it’s no small thing. Imagine — the cupboard is bare.
“The irony is not lost on us, we give it away. If you lived around here and needed food, and we had it, we would give it to you. Pretty simple,” said Homiack. “I don’t know if somebody really needed it.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, email@example.com.