One of John Goddard's favorite Bible quotes comes from Matthew 25:34-40:
"I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me."
It's one of the driving directives behind First Presbyterian Church of Niagara Falls' FACT ministry.
FACT stands for Feed and Clothe Them, which Goddard runs and which recently benefited from the first of the church's monthly community luncheons that will take place on the second Thursday of each month.
Those in need of FACT services "are not people who have much," Goddard said. "We give bags of basic food items to those expressing a need.
"We are providing them with nutritious food, which probably costs less than they could buy it for, since we can hit the specials. In most cases, the clients are appreciative of what they get. This is an important ministry, judging from the people who use it. It's not always the same people every week.
Most of the clients are walk-ins, Goddard said, so church members know they live fairly close by.
"Our typical bag of groceries costs us about $10," he said, "and contains, more or less, a can of fruit, tuna, baked beans, pasta, two cans of vegetables, box of spaghetti or other pasta, can or jar of spaghetti sauce, box of rice, peanut butter, box of cereal, box of macaroni and cheese, and package of Ramen noodles. We may give out more if there's an apparent need.
"We all recognize that charity is part of Christian service, and getting involved hands-on is a way we can interface with the downtown community."
FACT, seeking a Presbytery of Western New York grant, last year distributed 522 bags of groceries. The pantry is open from 9 a.m. to noon every Tuesday.
"At the same time as the Food pantry, we have a Clothes Closet, which is stocked with donations of used and some new clothes," Goddard said. The Clothes Closet, run by the church women's group Women of Worth, "is down in the 'pit' area of the church," he said.
Goddard is a retired Praxair senior development associate who worked in the Semiconductor Materials Research and Development Department. He once worked on developing products for the electronics industry. Now he helps make sure people have enough to eat and clothes to wear.
"To make the ministry work, we need a continual flow of clothes," he said. "We particularly need men's clothes, as these tend to go out more quickly than others.
"We have baby and toddler clothes, too," Goddard added, "and those usually go to mothers and grandmothers.
"Sometimes, someone will ask for personal hygiene items, like soap or toothpaste. We've even been known to bring in motel soap bars and the like, so we'll have something on hand."
Goddard's wife, Carolyn, along with Jane and Robert MacNaughton also volunteer.
"Also, many people support this ministry through gifts of money, which helps us to believe the ministry is the right thing to do," Goddard said. "Donations of food, clothes and money are needed, but volunteers to serve are always welcome."
Community luncheon attendees at the dining room in First Presbyterian, 311 First St., are asked to bring nonperishable foods item for the food pantry.
"Every little bit we receive in the way of donations is appreciated, and we will be asking for, although not requiring, a food item at each luncheon, all of which will benefit the FACT ministry," said James Brunn, First Presbyterian's communications coordinator.
These luncheons will go on each month on a yearly basis with the exception of Lent, when the church has a Lenten Luncheons program.
"If you are cleaning out your closets and have any summer clothing items to donate they also would be welcome," said Brunn. Call the church office at 285-3555 for reservations or information. Reservations for the luncheon are not required, but would be helpful for food prep.
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