From Heewon Kwon (as delivered to the congregation on April 10). Our thanks to Aldersgate Outreach Community Center for hosting our EM members and for all the work they do in the East Brunswick community.
On 3/27/2022, Jae Herh, Tiffany Kim, Emily Chung, Julia Yu and I served at Aldersgate Outreach Community Center (AOCC) from 12:00-3:30 p.m. AOCC has a food pantry and a thrift shop. There were about 6 to 7 people in charge of the operations. When we told them we were from their neighbor Calvary Korean United Methodist Church, they were very happy to have us and said that they had received a van load of donated goods from Calvary last fall. They appreciated that we came to serve as volunteers.
Before the food pantry opened to clients at 1:00pm, the leaders and volunteers set up tables in a linear fashion out in front of the house. We brought out boxes of donated perishable and non-perishable food items, unpacked them and placed them by category on the tables. When the food pantry opened to clients, we also assisted them as they selected food and some toiletry items. The Aldersgate food pantry provides food to hundreds of families each month. On the day we volunteered, we were told approximately 50 families were served. Under the leaders’ direction, in addition to helping the clients, we replenished the food stations as long as the items were available. Jae also did a lot of walking to and from the parking lot in order to return the plastic bins and carts after the clients transferred their food into their cars. At 3 p.m. the pantry was closed to the clients and we helped pack things away and clean up. We learned that monetary and food donations can be made at the food pantry during the hours it’s open on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.
The thrift shop is located inside the main portion of the house as well as outside in the back of the house. There was a trailer that contained sorted clothes which were hung for sale. Tiffany and I sorted seasonal clothes and put them on hangers to be brought to the trailer for sale. We were told that the proceeds from the thrift shop support the food pantry. Diane from AOCC gave us a tour of the thrift shop inside the main house. It was packed with new and used clothing, toys, and household items. These donations to the thrift shop are made by appointment only.
I want to thank our first team of wonderful volunteers for their time and service. The AOCC has a system in place which seems to work fairly well. We were fully occupied the entire afternoon. I think we all saw a tremendous need for help. We look forward to our next outreach opportunity on 5/22. I thank the volunteers who have signed up for that day. I would like to get three volunteers for June 26th so please let me know if you are available.
Lastly, going forward, after assessing feedback from everyone who has served and will serve at least once in the next couple of months, we hope to determine the frequency and duration of our commitment as well as find the most efficient way to enlist volunteers.