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West Bloomfield Methodist church lands boatloads of food donations

A group of kids unloaded grocery bags filled with cans, boxes and jars of food along with soap, toothpaste, deodorant and toilet paper from the trunks of West Bloomfield United Methodist Church members’ cars Sunday.

They put the items into wagons and moved them to a 12-foot rowboat and a sailboat sitting in front of the church along Walnut Lake Road.

“It feels good to be a part of helping the hungry,” said 10-year-old Ben Kissonergis of West Bloomfield. He, his brother Kris Kissonergis, 12, and several others helped move the food.

For three weeks, members of the church were urged to participate in the church’s first Boatload of Food giveaway to gather food that will be donated to Gleaners Community Food Bank in Detroit.

The goal: to have the boats overflowing.

“We have never done anything this large before,” the Rev. Brian William said of the 90-member congregation. “We are challenging ourselves to do a boatload.”

The West Bloomfield church is one of 82 metro Methodist churches participating in Hands 4 Detroit, an event that encourages parishes to collect canned goods, toiletries and other items for donation to Gleaners.

This week, area churches will collect goods to be delivered to the project’s host church, Detroit Metropolitan United Methodist Church, on Saturday morning. The goods will be loaded onto a 53-foot semi truck and delivered to Gleaners that afternoon.

Simon Kissonergis said there are lessons his sons can learn from helping.

“It teaches them responsibility, and it teaches them they have it pretty good in life,” he said.

A similar event was held in the Methodist Church community in Chicago over the summer.

The Hands 4 Detroit event also includes community service. After the food is given to Gleaners, members of various churches will participate in projects across the city that including cleaning up neighborhoods, painting and other volunteering.

“We hope this project gets people more in relationship with each other for the greater good, and we hope we can make a difference,” said the Rev. Ray McGee, Detroit Metropolitan United Methodist Church senior pastor.

The West Bloomfield church decided to incorporate boating in their food drive because of its nearness to several lakes.

“We are located on Walnut Lake Road near Orchard Lake Road and many of our members live on lakes or go fishing or boating,” William said.

Although the church has a smaller congregation, William said he hopes it encourages them to give more.

“God transforms us so we can change the world and so we can make an impact,” William said.