(Photo: The Salvation Army in Port Angeles / Maj. Katheleen Johnson)
In order to help The Salvation Army food bank in Port Angeles, Wash., whose food storage facility was ransacked by thieves just over a week ago, congregants from Mars Hill Church in Seattle were challenged by their pastor to help out in a big way, and they did.
An estimated 2,000 pounds of canned goods and non-perishable food products was stolen from the ministry's storage locker on Oct. 12, Peninsula Daily News reports. Mars Hill's pastor, Mark Driscoll, challenged his congregation to replace all that was lost.
In a response that far exceeded expectations, 21,500 pounds in goods were donated by churchgoers from Mars Hill's Ballard, Downtown Bellevue, Downtown Seattle, Everett, Federal Way, Olympia, Shoreline, West Seattle and U-District campuses and given to the food bank on Tuesday.
“At the end of the day, it took two 17' trucks to get all the food ready to ship,” Driscoll wrote on his blog on Tuesday. “Thanks again Mars Hill for your generosity!”
Maj. Katheleen Johnson of the Salvation Army in Port Angeles told The Christian Post on Wednesday that the charitable gift is a blessing from God.
“I was overwhelmed,” she said of when she first learned of the sizable donation. “I've always told our church people that if we remain faithful and do what we're supposed to do that God will bless us, and He's blessed us 100-fold."
When the theft occurred, Johnson and her husband, Maj. Dana Johnson, were on vacation. When they returned they found out the locked storage space had been broken into, and, according to her estimation, just under one-quarter of the food items in the locker were missing.
But after an article about the theft ran in a local newspaper, she says, members of the community began pitching in. Approximately 600 pounds of food and $12,000 in monetary donations have been given by individuals and other concerned organizations since the incident occurred.
About a week ago, Mars Hill called her and said they would be able to donate an additional five tons of food, but over the weekend that amount more than doubled to just under 11 tons.
Johnson says the ministry, on average, feeds approximately 2,600 people and provides about 250 families with boxes of food each month. The massive donation also came just in time for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, when they expect to give out 700 boxes of food to needy families.
“The fall season, with the turn in the weather, puts even more people in our community on the edge of need,” Johnson and her husband wrote in a letter of appreciation to Mars Hill. “The holidays will bring more and more to our doorstep seeking assistance. Your support allows us to continue our century old ministry of 'meeting the need at the point of need.' Thank you for caring enough to make a difference.”
When asked what she would say if she could speak to all of the people who made donations after the theft occurred, Johnson struggled to find the right words.
"I would say, 'Thank you, from the bottom of my heart,'” she replied softly.
She also said she would share Matthew 25:40 with them, which, in the New International Version 1984, reads, “The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”
“It wasn't just [to the] Salvation Army they gave, they gave it to the Lord as well," Johnson said.