New ministry takes prayer requests, gives bags of food
Hands 4 Hope is an outreach with volunteers from many churches
ALBION – The “hands” were out on Saturday, knocking on doors, flagging down cars and standing near a former red delivery van. The group, Hands 4 Hope, was offering prayers and free bags of food.
It was the fourth Saturday Hands 4 Hope has been out. They started on Jan. 30 on Lydun Drive in Albion. They have been in Medina at the corner Orient and Star streets, in Holley near Thomas Street and Public Square, and Liberty Street in Albion on Saturday near Beaver and West Park streets.
Hands 4 Hope is modeled after the Care-A-Van Ministries in Batavia, which has been operating for 16 years.
Jack Burris, owner of Burris Cleaning Service in Albion, pushed for Hands 4 Hope in Orleans County after seeing the success of Care-A-Van. Burris has shadowed Care-A-Van for nearly a year, going on outreach with Care-A-Van founder Paul Ohlson.
Care-A-Van also has red vans where it takes bags of food and welcomes people to step up in the truck and share their prayer concerns. Ohlson and volunteers are happy to pray with them.
Burris said he felt a prompting from God to try a similar ministry in Orleans. He found a van on eBay and connected with Greg Stanton from Stanton Signs in Medina to paint the logo. Burris calls the red van “Clifford.”
The past four Saturdays have been eye-opening, and confirmation to Burris and the ministry volunteers that there is a need for the food and prayers.
Many of the people who stop by Hands 4 Hope are in dire straits, feeling the stress of too many bills and not enough money. Many also are not connected from church and feel distant from God.
Burris and the volunteers hand off bags of food, hoping that will ease some of the stress of the physical needs. After that he says Hands 4 Hope will gladly appeal to a higher power. Burris will pray in the truck, writing down the prayer requests in a notebook, offering to keep the people and their concerns in his prayers in the future.
The first four Saturdays, Hands 4 Hope gave away 133 “shares” of food. No one declined a prayer.
“It’s not about the food,” Burris said. “It’s about the hope.”
Burris said he expects Hands for Hope will be in Albion two Saturdays a month, and Holley and Medina once each. The months with five Saturdays he will wait to see where the group is led to minister.
So far the food has been paid for with an anonymous donor. Burris buys it from Pawlak’s Save-A-Lot. The volunteers separate the food into 40 shares on Friday evening. On Saturday morning, the group gathers a half hour before the 10:30 a.m. start time. They spend those 30 minutes praying for the people they will see that day.
Cory Holz stood outside the van on Saturday by the First Baptist Church. Holz welcomed people, chatting with them while they waited their turn. He also helped some up a step into the back of the vehicle.
Holz and his father Rick have volunteered with Care-A-Van in Batavia. They also attend the Albion Free Methodist Church with Burris.
Holz said some people have “preconceived ideas” about church. He welcomes the chance to bring a ministry out into the community, and not wait for people to come inside a church building.
“You’re getting out on a much more personal level,” Holz said about Hands 4 Hope.
People share about their challenges, which may include physical ailments, paying their bills, finding a reliable car and job.
“There is a ginormous need,” said Greg Stanton of Medina, one of the volunteers Saturday and the sign painter.
He went in the Albion neighborhood near First Baptist, knocking on doors and telling people about the ministry on Saturday morning. Stanton said he is one of the “fisherman” for the ministry. Burris says the volunteers are all the “hands.”
Burris feels like the effort has been blessed. The first Saturday they had 40 shares ready and went to the Lydun Drive neighborhood. They didn’t have any advertising except for the red truck. They knocked on doors and people came out. Everyone wanted a prayer. They welcomed the food.
There were exactly 40 people who came to the van for a share of food. That was how many shares of food had been prepared.
Burris isn’t sure what God has in store for Hands 4 Hope.
“We’re taking a leap of faith,” he said.
Hands 4 Hope has a Facebook page (Click here). Donations and mail can be addressed to Hands 4 Hope at P.O. Box 495, Albion NY 14411.