In giving gift cards, Gresham UMC pastor understands hunger

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by Sally Blanchard

“I grew up poor. My family didn’t always have enough to eat. For me, it’s payback. “

This background helps Dr. Rev. Steve Lewis, pastor of Gresham United Methodist Church understand food insecurity first hand and motivates him to participate in the Oregon-Idaho Conference Grocery Gift Cards for families program.

The first $5,000 grant to Gresham UMC in April purchased gift cards to stores like Safeway, Albertsons and Fred Meyer.  He divided them between three local elementary schools through the school principals. Davis Elementary has 100 percent of their kids on free and reduced lunch. Hartley Elementary has the same demographics and need. Kelly Creek Elementary was the third school to receive the cards for their students.  Gresham UMC has had a summer school program there for several years.

Columbia District Superintendent Erin Martin contacted Lewis about a month later to see if a second grant would help. That grant was for $3,000 and the congregation raised more than $6,000 with donations still coming in. As people heard about the program, Lewis said people wanted to get involved. His neighbor is not a church member but gave $250 to the program.  Lewis’ parents sent a check.  He sees people wanting to help others in need, especially when it is hungry children and families.

“My hope is people can see there is good in the world,” he said.

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