This time of year, most especially, I think about how far Morningstar Relief Mission has come from its own humble beginnings about 18 years ago. We were once called Full Plate, and ran a weekly meal program out of the basement of St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church, serving just a small handful of people. Our motto was ‘Channelling God’s love to the world God loves.’ Nearly two decades later and we have never needed to change it.
In English, we have only one word for love, but in Greek they have four different words for love. I want to take a moment this Christmas to talk about Agape or unconditional love, perhaps the highest form of love.
Whether we are always aware of it or not, at Morningstar, we are a collection of people motivated by love and, to a great extent, striving to love our neighbours unconditionally. When I go to work every day I don’t just see people mashing potatoes, packaging meals, or sorting food. Looking beyond the duties and activities I see individuals who need to receive love and to give it. That is why so many of us work so hard to find ways to connect with the people we serve, even when it’s not always easy.
While we await a vaccine for COVID-19, the healing remedy for the isolation and disconnectedness it has inflicted on us all is, in my opinion, Agape or unconditional love. I hope you will join me this Christmas season in celebrating the incredible acts of love that Morningstar has been able to deliver during this global pandemic.
We have distributed approximately 35,000 meals across Lennox & Addington County since April of this year. Thanksgiving saw us send out 446 turkey dinners and Christmas will likely see us distribute over 600 more. We are also delivering an expected 200 personalized Christmas gift baskets. And our winter clothing drive outfitted close to 100 people with warm weather gear. Christmas has always been a busy time for Morningstar but this is the largest seasonal outreach in our history.
Even when we had to close our doors our volunteer tax preparers still found a way to complete over 600 returns for low-income people ensuring their benefits were not interrupted. Our food cupboard has continued to provide hampers throughout the week on an as-needed basis. And we regularly offer high-demand pantry and personal care items to clients alongside the takeout meal and hospitality program.
Of course I can’t talk about what love has done this year without acknowledging our volunteers and how they have risen to the challenge of responding to our community during a crisis. Morningstar is stronger than we have ever been thanks to the many teams who have pulled together to make outreach on this scale possible. Those who cannot be with us in person have supported us from home, making check-in calls, finding out what kind of practical help people need, and praying with those feeling isolated and scared.
And where would we be without our donors? Gifts of money and food have surpassed anything I would have imagined possible despite all the uncertainties around COVID-19 and the economic impact on businesses and families in this community.
Unconditional love powers everything we do. In the face of a worldwide pandemic, worsening isolation, and fear, the love flowing in and through Morningstar has carried the day. No matter how big the adversary, when we come together, each making our own unique contribution, in as unconditionally loving a way as we can, we have shown that we can be a shining light that shows the way.
Just like God used the birth of a baby and a simple family to change the world, I believe God is using each of us to change our community for the better. Thank you for all you have done for Morningstar.
And may God protect your family and bless each and every one of you this Christmas.
Your fellow servant,
Morningstar Relief Mission