Every morning, Suzan Tugman takes a few moments and fills up the little free pantry on the property at St. Jude Thaddeus in front of the parish hall.
“We stock it every day,” she says. “We try to keep something in there every day for someone who needs it.”
Suzan takes care of daily operations for the Blessing Box Ministry, bringing donated items from parishioners and filling the pantry each day. Anyone in the community may come and take what they need to get through the day, whether it be nonperishable foods or hygiene items.
“It’s a challenge to keep it full,” Suzan says. “Those that need seem to take a lot if they can.”
There is a small purple wagon in the parish narthex for parishioners to drop in donations that will be sorted and added to the pantry — donations may include hygiene items and nonperishable food items. There is always a need for more donations, especially as the cost of living increases in our community.
This simple ministry makes it easy to practice one of the Corporal Works of Mercy — to feed the hungry. It is something we can all take part in with very little effort.
“Our parishioners keep it going very well,” Suzan says. “We have some members who have donated financially every month, and when that is distributed, I go buy things they would’ve purchased.”
Suzan got involved in the ministry several years ago when the previous pastor led the effort to start it up.
“I had never heard of one before and everyone was excited, but it never had anything in it,” she says. “That was really sad for our church.”
So about five years ago at the start of Lent, Suzan made it her mission to ensure there were always items available in the pantry.
“As I started doing that, others got involved, and it just blossomed,” she says.
The ministry is quite small, as the nature of the work only requires a few people to be readily available to sort out donations and put them out in the pantry. But Suzan considers everyone who donates to be a ministry member. She encourages all parishioners to consider giving what they can to the pantry — regardless of which parish he or she is most closely affiliated with.
“I think stewardship is one of our first callings as Christians,” Suzan says. “To give back and to support the needy and the poor is of utmost importance.”
For more information about the Blessing Box Ministry, contact Suzan Tugman at 940-781-4909, or the Tri-parish office at 940-569-1222.