A local ministry is working to bring the community together for a common good.
Community outreach ministry 2nd Chance by Mercy will host its first ever banquet beginning at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 14 at Impact Church in Benton. The event will feature guest speaker Samuel Kiguli, a Ugandan missionary who works to provide orphaned children an education and home through his nonprofit Light with Truth. It’s a speaking engagement from which 2nd Chance founder and volunteer Rachel Lane said residents would benefit.
“Our guest speaker … he does a lot of work in his community,” Lane said. “He builds orphanages and schools, and he will tour the United States to get his mission out to see what the lord set for him and his people. We’re excited about that and to hear how he helped his community in ways that we’re trying to help ours. … It’s going to be a very enlightening speech I think. I think it’s going to put a little light on things (and) how fortunate we are.”
The banquet will begin with a meet and greet and a slideshow presentation of 2nd Chance initiatives and community response and assistance in those efforts.
Monday’s banquet will provide participants with the opportunity to not only to learn about Kiguli’s organization but also to be a part of something bigger in their own community. Lane said Second Chance volunteers were working to organize “Feed My Sheep,” an event which will bring together various churches, volunteers and officials in a unified effort at helping those in the community who need a hand up.
“We are hosting it, but we are asking all the churches, different clubs – just anyone that wants to get involved – just to unite and work together to help in this event,” Lane said. “ … We’re going to have a little service, we’re going to have music – we’re trying to get some live music – just have a fun few hours. The main thing, what we’re doing is we’re going to give away free non-perishable items. That’s where we’re really asking the community to help, to gather these non-perishable items. We do ask that you have an ID and proof of residency. … It’s just to show our community that we’re here, that our community is here for them to help. And you know, a bag of groceries can go a long way.”
The event, set for Oct. 28 at H.H. Lovett Park in Benton, is still in the works, Lane said. Volunteers with 2nd Chance will establish drop points throughout the county and in local churches for residents to be able to contribute food to the effort; residents may also set up their own drop points to collect for the effort.
Lane said she intends to speak at Monday’s banquet about the ministry and make the official announcement on Feed My Sheep. The banquet itself is free and open to the public; however, the organization will host a silent auction fundraiser. Money raised from the auction will go to benefit 2nd Chance projects. Dessert and drinks will be served.
Lane said she hopes the banquet will put eyes on the organization so that residents will become familiar with what the ministry offers so they may assist in efforts or utilize services. The community outreach organization has been responsible for a number of public assistance efforts in the county, including constructing and placing mini food pantries – boxes that community members stock with non-perishable food items that needy residents may take as needed – throughout various locations in the county. The ministry has started a clothing closet which opens each Thursday and is stocked with garments for children through adults; once a month through the closet, the organization gives away hygiene products, baby products and other items considered necessities that often prove too expensive for those struggling financially to provide themselves or their families.
Most recently, the group held a shoe drive to collect new tennis shoes for students in need. Lane said all totaled, the group gathered about 90 pairs of shoes for county students. Shoes were delivered on Wednesday to Family Resource and Youth Service centers, as well as area churches that identified those in need, just in time for the start of school.
The organization is entirely volunteer and donation driven, and the experience has proven worthwhile to those involved.
“Everything we do is just to share Jesus,” volunteer Karen Freeman said in a previous interview. “… I know that people struggle because they have been hurt by churches, and that people won’t go to church because somebody’s done this or some’ done that. So, when I became aware of 2nd Chance by Mercy, for me it was a way to try to reach the unchurched, who typically wouldn’t set foot in a church, but a way for those people to know that there are people who care about them and want to help them. … The church is full of imperfect people. Just because one person hurt them doesn’t mean they have to give up on church or give up on God.”
For more information on 2nd Chance by Mercy, to volunteer or to donate, message the group on Facebook.