Chris Sarkowski is the Director of Ministries for Children and Youth at First Presbyterian Church in Auburn, Alabama.
Helping others who struggle with issues surrounding food insecurity has been a mission focus
for our youth for a while now. We regularly volunteer at the Food Bank of East Alabama sorting
food and packing bags for the Backpack Buddies program. Our youth volunteer at the
Community Market where they stock shelves and prepare the market for folks to come in and
shop for groceries. We also help with the planting, harvesting, weeding and watering at our
church’s garden plot where we grow a variety of vegetables that are donated to the Community
But if you were to ask our group of junior high girls who have been to CYM the past two years
what their favorite mission thing is, they would all give the same answer without hesitation,
“Preparing and serving lunch at Neighbors Together.” And if you asked them why, each of them
would, again, give you the same answer. “The people.” “Meeting the people.” “Talking to the
people we are serving.”
The work we do in our local community to fight hunger is extremely important. The Food Bank
of East Alabama serves seven counties and provided over 4.5 million meals to families last year
alone! That can’t happen without volunteers like our youth. But it very rarely, if ever, provides
the opportunity for our youth to meet the people they are serving.
That’s part of what makes our time at CYM so meaningful to our youth. Working with
organizations like Neighbors Together allows them the opportunity to meet the people they are
serving. They see first-hand how a hot meal can affect someone who is hungry. Not only does
that meal fill someone’s belly, but it puts a smile on their face and reminds them that they are
loved by God. And it reminds our youth that although they are 400 miles from home, the
people of North Charleston are their neighbors too!