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Getting help from an ‘Angel’

Church helps those stung

Posted: September 28, 2008 8:33 p.m.
Updated: November 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Billie Schlau, left, collects food during Valencia United Methodist Church's Angel Food Ministries food distribution, Saturday morning.

Dawn Demko walked out of Valencia United Methodist Church carrying a box filled with different cuts of frozen meat, canned vegetables, a mix of side dishes and other dinner table essentials.

It was enough food to keep Demko and her three house mates satisfied for the next month.
Plus the food bill was less than $100, no doubt making it easy on the Canyon Country resident.
"It's a lot of food for the price," she said.

Though she typically shops at Wal-Mart for groceries, Demko isn't pleased with the super store's meats nor the prices of the meat.

So she turned to Angel Food.

"I decided to give it a try," she said.

Looking at the food, she was impressed.

"It's a good assortment," she said.

Demko and dozens of other local families and seniors visited the Valencia church on Saturday to pick up their month's order through Angel Food Ministries, a faith-based program that provides restaurant-quality food to anyone who needs it.

The church decided to become an Angel Food host site over the summer as a way to meet the needs of the community.

The church received 188 orders from 93 separate customers, making it the largest distribution for the church and Angel Food Ministries, according to Nancy Taylor, director for Valencia United's Angel Food site.

Nearly 20 of those boxes were bought by local residents to be donated to the Hunger Defense Fund, SCV Food Pantry and SCV Senior Center, which have seen a drastic increase in the number of clients in recent months.

As the church enters its fourth month as a host site, the orders are still coming in.

"Every month the orders are increasing," Taylor said.

At Saturday's distribution, customers traveled through the assembly line, filling their cardboard boxes with their much-needed food.

The event brought 40 church and community volunteers together to run the assembly line and further the mission of the church's W.O.W. ministry, which stands for Working Outside the Walls.

"Everybody can participate and take ownership in this program," Taylor said.

It's a thought Cathy Taff wanted to share with her daughters, 9-year-old Lindsay and 7-year-old Megan.

Wearing their Valencia United shirts with the phrase "The church has left the building" on the back, the family from Stevenson Ranch worked the assembly line, helping customers gather their orders.
"I personally wanted to give back," she said.

The volunteer opportunity also served as a way for Taff to teach her kids about the life lesson of giving back.

The Valencia church is the only host site for the Santa Clarita Valley, but Rev. Dr. Judith Hirsch-Fikejs of Acton Community Presbyterian Church hopes to establish her church as a host site in the winter.
"Most people are putting their food money in their gas tanks," she said.

She said the people of Acton are also struggling with the economic downturn. As a result, she said Saturday that the church has applied to become a host site for Angel Food Ministries. She hopes the service will be available to the Acton community in December.


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