A $35,000 semi-trailer full of food and other essentials pulled into the parking lot at Mount Ararat Church in late March, part of an effort to help the needy in the North Stafford community after COVID-19 led schools and businesses to close and many left out of work.
“We’ve been distributing boxes of food, toilet paper, baby wipes,” said Jerry Williams, a pastor at the church. “We ran out earlier this week.”
They’ve put a trailer in front of the church at 1112 Garrisonville Road. They'll be accepting rice and beans and canned goods from 9-11 a.m. Monday through Friday that they will distribute to people in need.
“We realized the need just continues to grow,” Williams said, noting that the church isn’t done helping. “We’re figuring out what’s next.”
Finding a way to support the community is something Mount Ararat Church has been doing for years.
“We’ve done a lot of disaster relief, but what sets this apart is that it wasn’t just a flood,” Williams said. “It’s an ongoing crisis.”
He said the families in the most need are those already on the margins — the first to lose work when this crisis hit.
“We feel blessed and humbled that we’re in a position to help those in need,” he said. “It’s a privilege to provide that support.”
And the church members have found that, while they’re reaching out to the community, a even larger community is reaching back out to them — online.
They’d have 3,500 typically attend services in person before the crisis, with about 1,000 viewers streaming online. That number has exploded, with the services reaching 15,000 on the church website and on social media.
“People are connecting with us in a whole new way,” Williams said before noting the church’s motto for these times. “We don’t like ‘social distancing.’ We’re practicing physical distancing and social connecting.”