Poor, Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent
Just knowing that there is adequate nutritious food available when they are hungry is a critical component to academic performance, social development, and physical health in school age children! Research continues to demonstrate that even moderate levels of food insecurity can have profound negative effects in each of these areas in both children and adults!
Crossfire Ministries' Community Share Program seeks to create a positive outcome in each of these areas, leading to greater opportunities for higher education, upper level job skills, and a break in the cycle of poverty.
Community Share is a food rescue and redistribution program in which participants have access to adequate amounts of quality nutritious foods, based on household size. Community Share is a no-cost, "free choice" model where participants are able to choose the foods that they and their families are most likely to use, greatly improving participation rates and reducing waste. "Free Choice" model programs give participants a sense of ownership in their "shopping" experience and tend to create feelings of dignity and respect for participants.
Crossfire Ministries(CFM) utilizes over 250 volunteers annually to accomplish their mission. Because CFM is able to maintain this volunteer base, over 95% of every dollar donated goes toward direct program costs. CFM also seeks out and maintains partnerships with Businesses, Organizations, local Churches, and other Non-Profits. That translates to over 1 million pounds of food shared every year, along with approximately 50,000 personal hygiene items and 100,000 pounds of clothes. CFM has several other special sharing opportunities throughout the year. In FY 2017, these included over 1200 Thanksgiving boxes, 1400 children and teen Christmas gifts, and 1000 backpacks filled with school supplies.
Community Share is a "Very Few Questions Asked" organization, meaning that the intake process is minimally invasive, requiring only a Social Security Card for each household member, a Photo ID for the Primary Household Member, and proof of current address for registration. Business hours are Tuesday 10:00 am - 7:00 pm, Wednesday 10:00 am - 4:00 pm, and Thursday 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. CFM has no income or zip code restrictions and welcomes anyone who states they have a need.
"We have been living in our motorhome for sometime now. Just trying to get by. I'll admit, it hasn't been easy. My wallet was stolen recently so I have no form of identification right now, can I still get some food? I did recently receive a parking violation ticket that has my name and birthdate on it - can you use that?"
This is how the conversation started yesterday with a family needing to access our services. I just happened to be doing the intake process and was able to help this family.
During our intake process they asked if the food we gave was different if a person had a way to cook it or not. When I told them they would be able to pick out their own items and could choose what they would be able to use, their faces lit up. I think the comment that they made was "right on. that's cool". I was able to provide them with a clothing voucher, household voucher and much needed personal hygiene items. As we do with all families that come in, I offered to pray with them. "All of our prayers and needs have just been answered by coming here" is how he responded.
On any given day at Crossfire, 250 to 350 clients walk the tightly packed aisles to select the canned goods, produce and meats that will serve their needs best. Each one has a story and sometimes we hear portions of them. When a shopper's name tag has the word "Yes" written on it, it means someone in their family is having a birthday. That entitles an extra stop at shelves lined with birthday cakes, cupcakes-and a little joy. "I'm really excited," the 10 year-old girl told the Crossfire volunteer as she slid a dark chocolate cake across the checkout counter. "My favorite cake is chocolate," she said. "Well happy birthday," the volunteer said. "Thanks. I haven't been able to have a birthday cake for two years." When the bags were packed, her mother leaned across the counter. "I'm so grateful to Crossfire Ministries for making it possible for us to bring our daughter and let her pick out a birthday cake," she said.
"Let me first say I am not a letter writer. I have been encouraged to write my gratitude down, to express my thankfulness in pen rather than words. This is difficult as it is hard to put into words how much I rely on or have come to rely on the assistance of Crossfire Ministries has given to my family. Excuse my lack of soft skills as my husband would preface everything I talk about.
My daughters, ages 8 and 1, eat hot meals every morning - hot rice cereal or fried potatoes and eggs DIRECTLY BECAUSE of Crossfire's "take what you can use for the week". I also have my grandson who is also eats hearty and healthy but is picky. Crossfire has allowed me too give options to my children for their meals - no not every time but they don't ever go hungry. My income is less than $1800.00 gross a month and there is six people, 3 adults and 3 children, and no one is on Government assistance. No WIC, no food stamps, no aid for families with children, no housing, nothing. By the grace of God we have survived…our mortgage is current, sometimes late but current, my lights on, my water flowing, house is intact and my kids are happy, healthy and blessed.
The inexpensive treats we get to purchase upstairs to the special finds downstairs are all blessings to my family. Don't get me wrong I have been on Government Assistance before, but since coming to Crossfire we no longer need to be as I have the blessing to come weekly to fill my crispers in the fridge, my pantry and meat. If I have even given you a glimpse of my feeling I am pleased. I could go on and on like how much the clothing is appreciated, when I became pregnant and needed maternity clothes. Even now I take a gander from time to time to look for another shirt or looser pants. I provide for my family best I could now I know God is providing everything. He has given the community, has given me, Crossfire Ministries. Here is the basic reason I am overwhelmed with gratitude - I print coupons, I go to Crossfire's pantry every week and I shop sales at both markets so when my light bill comes in at $95.89 I can pay it - late but paid, my mortgage at $605.13 gets paid - late but paid. Why is this possible because I can feed and clothe my children with the help and love of Crossfire. My little beanbag girl looks forward to the smiles of Pam and the hugs from Tonya. My daughter and grandson ask can we pick out a treat…A TREAT…do you get what a huge thing that is to say yes and be a cool parent or grandparent to be able to say yes and watch them find a treasure.
Well there it is in a nutshell.
Thank you again for your shoulder to lean on, prayers to comfort and smiles to calm.
P.S I signed it that way because I'd like to stay unknown but those workers and volunteers know us by name, isn't that funny."
We work with youth aging out of foster care and sometimes they can experience a rocky and uncertain start to their independent living journey. Crossfire is the first place I think of when my youth are out of food and money. The staff are kind and non-judgmental when our youth walk through the door. The staff offer to pray for our youth and I have never had a youth refuse the prayer. Crossfire offers hope and connection. We are so appreciative of Crossfire being in our community! - Jenny Hanson, Caseworker
"Crossfire Ministries has always been my "go to" when taking my youth to get connected with resources. Their staff are always friendly and incredibly supportive. In one instance I took a youth who had moved out on their own and was really struggling financially. She was reluctant to go because she was embarrassed and had a difficult time asking for help. I assured her that she was safe and when I got there the staff reinforced this for her. She was in tears and there was a worker who welcomed her into the "family" and said that they were going to take care of her. They showed her around and explained about the different food bins. I could see in her body language that she felt welcomed and relaxed a little bit. It was experiences like this one that keep me coming back with the young people I work with. Your ministry is so kind and it shows in the work that you do that you truly care. Thank you for what you are doing! " -Kim, Caseworker
"Crossfire is my number one place to take youth who are living on their own. I always have a good experience and the staff are friendly and welcoming. They ask how they can pray for our youth. Crossfire shows that they care." -Portia, Caseworker