Durham ministry helps bridge food gap while schools are closed due to COVID-19

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Happy kids greeted the Braggtown Baptist Church van as it pulled up to an Oxford Manor curb in Durham Wednesday afternoon.

Inside the van, volunteers had 180 bags of food ready for distribution to those who usually count on meals provided at school.

A couple of hours earlier, six volunteers assembled 180 bags from tables covered with food. The activity was organized by Ignite C3, a ministry that also coordinated a camp for the children at Oxford Manor.

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Leah Rade of Ignite C3 got to know many of the families participating in the program that covers the food gap caused by school closures caused by coronavirus concerns.

"We are aware of the limitations and we immediately said, 'well we gotta help out!' And then when the Durham schools suspended their program because of the COVID-19 we said, 'how can we help even more?'"

Rade said in recent weeks they've also prepared "over 500 hot meals, between here, Oxford Manor and the Durham Rescue Mission because we have a relationship with them as well."

The bags delivered Wednesday raise the number delivered to more than 1,200 during the past two weeks, with the help of volunteers like Courtney Luther.

While assembling dozens of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches she explained, "I'm a preschool teacher and my school, of course is closed. So I'm glad to be able to get out and think of other people."

The church van also travels loaded with hard to find paper products.
"We just want people to be able to access the food, to have toilet paper, to not worry about how they're gonna change children's diapers," Rade said.

Inside each bag of food, they also pack little notes of encouragement written by two 7-year-old girls.

"We made duplicates," said Rade, "and the emergency chaplains were so inspired, I gave them copies and they gave them to all Durham's first responders."

Now she hopes their work will inspire others to check on their neighbors, consult social media to see who's in need of help, "And say, "I'm making some sandwiches and they're gonna be on my porch. Come and get them!"

She said about a third of the food they use is donated, the rest paid for by money contributed by people through their website, IgniteC3.com.

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