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Jan6WedFor many essential workers on the front lines of COVID-19, it was much more than that. January 6, 2021 Lisa Hillier
What are we going to do with all of that?” That was my initial response as my husband, Morgan, planted three large bags of treats— consisting of popcorn, chocolate, potato chips and candy—onto our church gym floor.
We were about two weeks into the COVID-19 lockdown, and a local store had donated all this to The Salvation Army, and this was our church’s share.
As I surveyed all the snacks, my thoughts began to race. How could this be used in ministry?
The struggle of reaching out to our congregation and community of Mount Pearl, N.L., had been real and challenging in those first weeks of COVID-19. As pastors, we had been cut off from the people we were there to serve—connecting was so challenging as people were hurting, anxious and fearful.
My daily prayer was: How can we minister to them? How can we bring hope?
But Morgan and I realized that God had given us a loud and clear answer as we transformed the generous donation into 35 bright orange gift bags. These we would drop off to essential workers associated with our church—nurses, firefighters, pharmacists, store workers and others who had no choice but to go to work each day and face the unknown.
My husband and I delivered them throughout the city—physically distancing, of course. Many expressed their gratitude directly and through social media, but one note that came six months later from the wife of a first responder left the greatest impact.
Brightening a Dark Time
Thank you. During the dark time when COVID-19 was new and very scary, when everything was shut down, watching my husband, Pat, walk out the door to go to work was difficult. Our boys felt it, I felt it and Pat especially felt it, with no idea what he would face, no idea what he would bring home. And even though it was Pat who actually left the house, it was the boys and I who were left behind with the worry. Pat working during that time affected us all.
The doorbell rang one day, breaking the silence.
Who is out there? I asked myself. Don’t they know there is a lockdown?
But on the other side of the door was a friendly face and a gift bag of treats thanking Pat for his service. This package of kindness sustained us. And not just for what it contained but for what it signified: that there is still lightness, still goodness in all our hearts.
“It was a bit like Christmas morning, all of us sitting around hauling out a special treat. It is strange how the package contained a favourite treat for each of us, almost as if we had placed an order. Candy for Mitchell, chocolate for Brandon, sour-cream flavoured chips for me, and kettlecooked chips for Pat.
I wanted to personally thank the church and its fabulous members for thinking about us and making that dark time just a little brighter.
The motto of The Salvation Army is “Giving Hope Today,” which was indeed the purpose of these treat bags, to show appreciation and to brighten a dark time for those who were giving of themselves. It is amazing how God used bags of treats, given in His name, to do just that.
Major Lisa Hillier and her husband, Major Morgan Hillier, are the co-pastors at The Salvation Army’s Mount Pearl Citadel church in Newfoundland and Labrador.