Observations: It’s over | Opinion

Most of the time when we utter those words, “It’s over,” it’s in relief of some event or project that we’re glad is over. However, this time that’s not the case at all.

The First Presbyterian Church’s Loving God, Loving People community summer lunch program for feeding kids was up and running all summer long in Sibley. There are kids in the community who could use a noon meal or companionship in the middle of the day.

But for those workers who were there day in and day out there has to be some sense of relief that it’s behind them. Taking time two to four hours Monday through Friday throughout the summer while school is out is no small commitment, yet everyone claimed to have loved doing it.

And that’s just what Dean and Nelvina Popkes can say as well as Kay Jansen who assisted most weeks.

It was Dean, though, that took the brunt of it all. He planned the menus, bought the groceries and shopped the secondhand stores for some needed items. He also borrowed things from his home and then listened to the naysayers.

But the kids came.

They enjoyed the meals and the after lunch a craft program and activities under the watchful eyes of Rochelle Jacobsma.

The hungry kids arrived early most days but doors never opened until 11 a.m. and most stayed until 1 p.m. when someone told them it was time to go! This sounds unbelievable but the kids were always ready with polite thank yous and pleases and everyone helped one another. There never were any control issues or even spilled juice!

The project was given food in abundance from wedding receptions, funerals, picnics and community events. It also came from home kitchens on a regular basis. People generously gave money to buy what was needed. We were blessed!

People came forward and volunteered their time to work those morning and noon hours and new friends were made. Blessings. There were people who had verbally volunteered who were probably never called. In most cases once someone came to help they came back again and again. It was a good experience, everyone said.

We had the naysayers with comments like some of the kids didn’t need to come because either mom was home or older kids were available or whatever the reason. How are we to know the situations in anyone’s home? We decided early on that we weren’t going to judge. We were there to make the kids feel welcomed, comfortable in the environment and get their hungry tummies filled.

Surprises came in some of the preferences for food. They loved breakfasts even though they were served at noon. A real hit! They didn’t like scalloped potatoes when they were offered, but someone in the kitchen suggested we call them cheesy potatoes and the kids enthusiastically took the hot dish and, in fact, many seconds were served.

They were picky about fruits: no to oranges and watermelon, big yes to grapes! Veggies, pretty much “no” to nearly everything green — especially broccoli. But they did love broccoli in chicken alfredo. Only in Iowa: Everyone loved corn!

So all of that picky eating was pretty much like home. If they didn’t like what was being served, they were offered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and we did have to serve a couple of those at times when new recipes were tried.

But there were no discipline problems whatsoever. There was a story going around that someone saw a sheriff’s car in the church parking lot. Not true! Anyway we knew of none, but if there was one it wasn’t because of any problem we were aware of. Naysayers, you know, never like being wrong.

I could make a long list of folks that were there nearly every day and those who came a few times, but it would be a too long. So, just please know that each of you was very much appreciated and the project couldn’t have been done without you!

This was not a “Presbyterian Church project.” We couldn’t have done it without the whole community stepping up to make it happen.

God is good!

Connie Wagner lives in Sibley. She is the co-founder of The N’West Iowa REVIEW and may be reached at cwagner@iowainformation.com.

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