Busy Sarah Heckman, sparkling with angelic calm as she goes about her duties at Rising Hope Mission Church, currently has no fears about her ability to distribute 350 Christmas turkeys to hungry Mount Vernon area families Dec. 19 and 20, though at present she has only 72 turkeys and 25 chickens.
“When I say 350 I go, ‘Whoa! That’s a lot!’ But it’s feasible I tell myself,” she said, undaunted by the task of gathering donations of turkeys and fixings for literally hundreds of Rising Hope Christmas baskets.
Heckman, following administrative restructuring at Rising Hope, is both church secretary and food pantry manager. Her “Milk and Honey Food Pantry” provides groceries for more than a thousand people weekly. As recession and unemployment continue, that number is growing.
Effervescent, she’s a whiz appearing seemingly everywhere at once at Rising Hope, located at 8220 Russell Road just off Route 1. Its ministry to the poor who are struggling to survive along the Route 1 corridor is supported by benevolent individuals and area churches including the new Islamic mosque in Hybla Valley.
So far she’s refusing to worry about bringing in 250 more turkeys.
“It’s possible. It happened at Thanksgiving, it can happen at Christmas. I feel optimistic, I feel confident that the Lord’s going to provide. I feel very confident that people will respond. It’s a humbling thing when you’re going from zero to 350 turkeys and you’ve got people bringing them in.”
Not only are donations of turkeys welcome, but hams and whole chickens are fine too, along with all the fixings. “If people are unable to do the meat, we always need stuffing, cranberries, canned vegetables, canned fruit, all the fixings,” she said. Donations, whether food or checks made out to “Rising Hope Christmas Baskets,” can be dropped off at the church Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
She invites donors to look at the big picture so they can fully appreciate the spiritual dimension of what their donations accomplish.
“It’s not necessarily about providing food,” Heckman said. “It’s about giving memories about the family gathering around the table. It’s about the creation of Christmas memories.”