‘If we have the ability to help them out, I think we should’

St. John’s Episcopal Church in New Milford has begun a bi-monthly food drive to benefit those in need during the pandemic.

The drive will be held the first and third Wednesday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon.

The first one was held May 6 and was a success, filling a mini van, a truck and the trunk of a car.

“The need for food donations is exponentially higher as a result of the pandemic, and a lot of people aren’t working and those are people if they don’t work, they don’t have food,” related the church’s pastor, the Rev. Jack Gilpin.

“In this time when churches are essentially no in-person public worship, the church is what we do together, and we’re looking for ways to do things together,” Gilpin said.

The food drive is one of the ways the church can do that.

Gilpin said he expects activities like this and other offerings the church is doing, including Zoom meetings and visits, will continue in the future, but for now, this is one of the ways parishioners and community members can come together.

On the designated days, donations of non-perishable items can be driven up to vehicles outside the church, where volunteers will transfer food from trunks and other rear compartments, while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Wednesday donations will benefit the town’s food bank, while Thursday donations will support the Our Daily Bread food bank at the New Milford United Methodist Church.

Gilpin said he shared the idea of a church food drive — after hearing of other churches doing similar activities — and shared it in the parish’s newsletter.

He asked for volunteers for each day and immediately received responses.

Parishioner Judy Coster was among those who heeded the call.

“It’s heart wrenching to see people waiting on lines for six or eight hours (to get good),” Coster said. “To think so many people are going hungry, it’s just heartbreaking.”

“If we have the ability to help them out, I think we should,” she said.

She noted how numerous non-perishables were delivered the first donation day.

A woman walking her dog even stopped by and made a cash donation.