Church meals

Mill Creek United Methodist Church volunteers, from the left, Grace Miller, Rev. John Morningstar, Tucker Swanger, Ethan Varner and Bethany Houp prepare food and packaging for their next monthly meal. The group provides a free meal for community members once a month.

Helping hands can come from a person of any age.

Mill Creek United Methodist Church has been giving back to the community by providing a monthly meal via takeout.

Fran Knepp is one of the youth leaders at the church. She said they started with in-person meals in 2019, but stopped completely when the pandemic hit.

“It wasn’t until one of the parents of our youth brought up the idea of providing takeout that we started again,” she said. “She wanted her daughter to be involved with something.”

Takeout meals are done the second Wednesday of each month. Since doing takeout, Knepp said it has mostly been run by the youth group.

“They prepare the meals, come up with the menu idea and everything,” she said. “They really get into it.”

On average, Knepp said they provide meals to approximately 100 people.

In the days following the fire at the Blair House Apartments in May 2020, when displaced residents were staying in hotels, she said they delivered to them, as well.

“We have people come from all over,” Knepp said. “Not just from the church or from Mill Creek. We see people from Mapleton and the borough, too.”

Bethany Houp, one of the youth members, said it has been a joy to help others.

“It brings everyone together,” she said. “It is really rewarding.”

Knepp said it is important for the youth volunteers to have this experience,

“They are learning about community building, and also what it means to give back to others,” she said. “It also helps because they are much more spry and quick on their feet when helping.”

Youth member Grace Miller also loves the way the meals bring people together.

“It’s nice to give people something to look forward to,” she said.

Knepp said that she hopes to be able to offer in-person meals again someday, as it bonds the community with the church.

“It brings lonely people together,” she said. “We tried doing a hybrid system, but many are still hesitant on coming.”

Though some of the food they use to prepare the meals is donated, other items are paid for by the church.

To raise money for the meals, the church will be holding a soup and bake sale 4-6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. Soups include ham and bean, stuffed pepper, cheeseburger and chicken corn.

Monthly meals are on a first come, first serve basis. The next meal will be a turkey dinner beginning at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 8.

“We really are a small congregation, but our youth members are spectacular,” Knepp said. “They are our future.”

Emily can be reached at eloose@huntingdondailynews.com.

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