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West Bloomfield

Church fills boats with donated food

Published October 5, 2012

» click to enlarge «
Pastor Brian William of West Bloomfield United Methodist Church hauls a wagon full of food to a sailboat as part of a Hands 4 Detroit service campaign.
According to the church, the food will go to a food bank and help hungry people in need.

WEST BLOOMFIELD — A local church floated an idea to have its members collect boatloads of nonperishable food to help out needy families across metro Detroit.

On Sept. 30, congregants of West Bloomfield United Methodist Church reportedly donated food and stored it inside a 15-foot rowboat and a sailboat. According to the Rev. Brian William, the goods will soon be sent to a food pantry as part of the regional Hands 4 Detroit campaign sponsored by the Detroit United Methodist Churches.

William said a box or a bag of food is simply not enough to feed the demand of so many hungry families in the area, so a boat presents a greater challenge and impact. He said the township’s proximity to water played a main role in establishing the theme.

“We figured, hey, our church is at the corner of Orchard Lake and Walnut Lake,” he said. “It kind of ties into our community.”

William said United Methodist churches across southeastern Michigan are teaming up to replenish food pantries through Hands 4 Detroit. The initiative aims to help feed 25,000 or more people.

William said it’s hard to say whether the hardship is worse now than it was before, but he said his church usually gets a couple of calls per week seeking assistance for rent, gas or food. Even making a small difference matters, he explained.

“We see their need in our community,” he said. “We know there’s hungry folks right in our community. ... It’s how we view ourselves as a church. We see God transforming us as we can transform the world.”

Jon Reynolds, outreach director of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Rochester, also led his congregation to take part in Hands 4 Detroit. Reynolds said he sits on Hands 4 Detroit’s planning committee.

Reynolds said the whole idea essentially emerged out of thinking that his church ought to do something about Detroit’s poverty. He said the collected food will go to Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan in Detroit.

“We all are in it together,” he said. “As we get into this season of getting colder … a lot of folks are going to go without food.”

Reynolds said United Methodist churches throughout metro Detroit are teaming up to do one day of service in the city by completing such projects as neighborhood cleanups or building soccer fields.

“Seven hundred fifty people signed up to engage in roughly 15 projects across Detroit,” he said.

Learn more about Hands 4 Detroit at

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