Rand Reasoner, senior pastor of the Prince of Peace Episcopal Church where the food pantry is located, said it was a wonderful surprise to receive the grant of $2,100.
“We have been supporting Alternative Gifts International for years and the director wanted to talk to some of those who have been instrumental in the ministry and the process,” Reasoner told Canyon News. “So we sat down with him and gave him some ideas and suggestions and told him how we ran the program here prior to Christmas," he added.
Reasoner, who said he is not shy to ask for money, said the church had received a grant in the past and asked how they might be able to get another grant. Laura McFall, director of market relations for Alternative Gifts International, said the Church has received two grants in the past, one in 1993 and one in 2002, totaling over $9,700.
McFall said the Prince of Peace Episcopal Church has an Alternative Gift Market every year, which is one of the projects listed in their catalog under project three.
“Project three is to help hungry and homeless Americans and food pantries here in the United States and in Canada,” McFall told Canyon News. “When a church or organization hosts a gift market for us, we call the volunteers in charge our market coordinators and we solicit nominations of food pantries or shelters in their local communities from them, which is how the Episcopal Church was nominated," she added.
Because of Reasoner’s nomination, the Church was selected as one of 15 recipients for these grants. McFall said the grants, which vary in number every year, are awarded based on the nominations and the amount of money given to that project during the year. The size of the grant and the number given are dependent on the amount given.
“What we look for in our nominations is that they have to be a 501(c)3 nonprofit and we look at how many clients are served and the fact of the matter is that food pantries are desperate,” McFall said. “They’re running out of food and more and more people are getting turned away and the system isn’t working the way it’s supposed to, but if the system really worked we wouldn’t have food pantries to begin with.”
Margaret Shizely, supervisor for the West Valley Food Pantry, has been involved since the pantry’s beginning back in the 1980s and said they serve more than 8,000 families a month. She said there is a large number of working poor and elderly residents whose monthly incomes do not cover their monthly expenses.
“We serve the poor and the homeless and anyone in West Valley,” Shizely told Canyon News. “We have six zip codes and people may come once every 30 days and homeless may come once every week and they get a full ration of food.”
Because the Prince of Peace Episcopal Church is part of a coalition made of 10 churches and one synagogue, Shizely said 55 percent of their food comes from the regional food bank in Los Angeles.
McFall said Alternative Gifts International aims to not only make people feel better today, but to provide a way for them to have a better life in the future. To do this, Alternative Gifts has provided a way to give nontraditional gifts, or gifts that are not seen as normal.
“Alternative gifts are like traditional gifts in that they express love and affection and celebrate occasions,” she said. “You never have to worry that they won’t fit, are not the right color, have to be dusted or just sit on a shelf and never get used. They are life-giving gifts being used around the world everyday.”
These gifts can be things like water filters, yaks or other animals for food, mosquito nets and other things like that, according to Reasoner.
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