A congregation in Pennsylvania recently gave out gift cards worth $50 each to all the employees of a local grocery store, while also helping to pay the bills of 200 customers.
Macedonia Church of Pittsburgh, a predominantly African American congregation founded in 1903, held what it called a “grocery store takeover” on Saturday at a local Giant Eagle.
In addition to the $50 gift cards given to the Giant Eagle employees, the church also paid upwards of $50 of each grocery store bill for patrons of the store.
“We wanted to recognize these frontline workers and show them that we appreciate all they do in this season,” said the church in a statement posted to Facebook on Saturday.
“We're able to be a blessing in our communities because of faithful givers like YOU! Thanks to all staff & volunteers as well as the management at Southside Giant Eagle for making this an excellent initiative.”
Pastor Brian James Edmonds, senior pastor of Macedonia Church, told The Christian Post that his congregation decided to do this event because “our world is hurting right now.”
“We are battling multiple pandemics, people are grieving lost loved ones, and frontline workers are putting their lives on the line. We thought this would be a powerful way to give people hope and demonstrate the love of Christ during uncertain times,” said Edmonds.
The total cost for the event was around $13,000, with Edmonds telling CP that it was “rooted in our understanding that the church should also tithe into the communities that it serves.”
“This is what it means to be a good neighbor. As a part of this particular outreach, we also gave $40,000 to local nonprofits who are doing transformative work,” he continued.
“For the past couple years, we have taken an entire weekend offering and devoted it to local nonprofits. We call it ‘Give100,’ since we are giving away 100% of what comes in.”
Ultimately, Edmonds told CP that he hoped the church taught people “that they are not alone, that they are appreciated, and that the love of God just might surprise you at the grocery store.”
“Our prayer is that someone’s faith is birthed, strengthened, or restored, as we are faithful to our calling to be the church,” he added.
As the United States continues to reel from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn, many churches are ramping up their charitable efforts to help the needy.
Last year, One Church, a multisite congregation based in Ohio, held a fundraiser aimed at providing gift cards to every foster teenager in the state, or approximately 5,300 individuals.
One Church Lead Pastor Greg Ford told CP in an interview last month that the idea for the gift card charity drive stemmed from a meeting with Franklin County Children Services last year.
“They shared with us that typically during the holidays, many donors want to provide toys and gifts for little kids but the teens are usually left out since they're typically not interested in toys at that stage,” Ford said.
“They said if we could provide gift cards for local fast food restaurants or retail stores, that gives the teens a sense of independence. When they're out with their friends, they can have a meal and enjoy themselves.”