Bethany Covenant Church in Lyndhurst, Ohio, was blessed recently by an unlikely partner to their food pantry.
One day a woman showed up at the church office with a box of groceries. “I’d never met her before,” says Debbie Montzingo, pastor at Bethany Covenant. It turned out Mandi DeScott was a waitress and bartender at Gilbert’s Tavern in town.
“I saw a call for help on Facebook and I like to help our community,” DeScott said. She put a box out at the tavern inviting patrons to donate nonperishable food items to Bethany Covenant Church’s free pantry. Every couple of weeks she collected the food and delivered a box of groceries to the church.
When DeScott asked tavern owner Greg Columbus, who has lived in the area his whole life, if they could help Bethany Covenant, he didn’t hesitate. “I want to do anything I can to help our community. Our regulars are people who help each other out,” he said.
The generosity didn’t stop there. Morris Beverage III, a friend of Columbus, also saw the Facebook request. Morris has worked with United Way and other nonprofit entities and knows the challenges of food insecurity. He says, “I don’t want people to have to choose between turning on the heat and eating.” Through his philanthropic work he understood that often cash is exceedingly helpful in food drives. So he created a challenge for Gilbert’s customers. For every item donated, he would donate $5, up to $5,000. The patrons were generous and gave 1,000 items.
When it came time to pick up the donation and food, Montzingo took away three carloads of groceries and a check for $5,000. The church used the funds to buy diapers, and condiments such as salt, pepper, and mayonnaise—items people don’t tend to donate. “This is not the most obvious partner we would have chosen, right? Montzingo said. “But God had it all in mind.”