By: James Jerge
All it takes is about 45 tons of reusable items (everything from fans to food to futons; from clocks to clothing to cookery; from books to boots to baskets; from magic-erase boards to mini-fridges to microwaves…..you get the idea!), about 30 super-dedicated volunteers a day, for 25 days, from various congregations and the community, someone(s) to make and serve a daily lunch……and, Voilà! Mission Center!
Understatedly named “Ten Tons of Love”®, The First English Lutheran Church of Syracuse (FEL) – in cooperation with Syracuse University, SUNY ESF, Onondaga Community College and a host of local businesses who donate trucks, drivers and storage PODS – has just wrapped up the 17th year of this semi-annual effort to invite students leaving campus at the end of a term to recirculate usable items from students to needy neighbors on the North Side of Syracuse and beyond. Volunteers sort, fold, launder and store all the items for distribution through FEL’s Clothing Closet
Pastor Craig Herrick reports that in the early days, his minivan and a Subaru went to a few dorms and picked up stuff that was mostly garbage. As the quantity of donated items has increased, so has the quality, as students report feeling good about sharing from what they no longer need with those who know only need. It’s not at all rare to receive items that are brand new (with tags in place!) to nearly new.
Coordinated for 16 years by Paula Hughson, FEL’s now-retired Ministry Associate, Steve Grant and I had our first experience in coordinating this massive effort. We did our best to stay out of the way and let this group of enthusiastic volunteers show us how miracles happen! Thanks be to God!