By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise
LEOMINSTER — Volunteers from St. Mark Episcopal Church have been so moved by the struggle of homeless children living in the city that dozens have volunteered to serve weekly dinners for them, said the Rev. Jim Craig.
The church is part of a growing coalition of churches trying to help the children, said Bob Doucette who is facilitating meetings.
“I’ve got five churches already, whether doing something or planning something, and I have to get a couple more,” said Doucette who is reluctant to bring any attention on himself.
Craig approached his parish first about helping the children and Doucette suggested reaching out to other churches.
Doucette sent letters to about 16 churches arranging a meeting to discuss how to help and five attended recently.
Joining St. Mark Episcopal are volunteers from New Life Church, Leominster United Methodist Church, Our Lady of the Lake and St. Leo’s Parish.
The next meeting of volunteers is is scheduled for May 20 at 10 a.m. in the community room at Fidelity Bank on the Leominster Connector.
Craig asked volunteers for a one-year commitment to the program.
St. Mark has about 30 active ministries but about 40 parishioners volunteered to take part in the children’s ministry, Craig said.
The church can’t solve all the children’s problems, but Craig wants to peck away at them to alleviate life’s burdens, he said.
“The more we got into it, the more enormous this problem is,” Craig said. “We can’t do everything but we can do something.”
Craig isn’t sure what sort of attendance to expect for the first meal.
“This is all kind of new to us,” he said. “We’re seeing where this will lead us.”
The church plans to rotate four basic dinners once a week starting with spaghetti and meatballs Tuesday.
Donata Martin, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster on Lindell Avenue, has offered her facility for the meals.
“We’ve arranged through the School Department to get a bus to drop them off at the Boys & Girls Club,” Craig said.
The Rev. Steve Gill, the family life pastor at New Life Church, said his church has a ministry with the Johnny Appleseed Elementary School across the street providing such things as backpacks and school supplies to children in need.
He plans to attend the May 20 meeting but believes New Life will work independently of other groups or with Johnny Appleseed.
“As Christ followers we should be helping people, particularly those in need,” Gill said. “So New Life wants to engage and serve those in need with action.”
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