Churches combine efforts at CROSS

Nov. 25, 2013 @ 10:27 AM

 For the less fortunate people of Seymour, CROSS — Christians Reaching Out Serving Seymour — is often the difference between a good meal and going without.

But the organization, founded by three churches nearly a quarter-century ago, does much more than just help feed the hungry. They help the needy with other essentials — toiletries, clothing, shelter, and even the occasional housing related expense.

“Our primary function is to help with food,” Buddy Greene, CROSS president, said. “We’re a small ministry, we don’t have a lot, we’re not as large as (some).

“(But) we allow our clients to come every 14 days and we give them a box of food.”

Greene said the organization, which is 100 percent volunteer, also does other things for those in need.

“Starting mid-January we’ll start helping, at times, with utilities and things,” he said. “We always help with clothes and any type of furniture we get. We just really don’t have room to store everything.”

The ministry helps those in the Seymour area, roughly a seven mile radius around the intersection of Highway 411 and Chapman Highway.

It’s beginnings were humble. Three local pastors got together after realizing they were often helping the same people with the same issues.

“They decided that if they could pool their efforts they could do more for the community than they could individually,” Greene said.

From three founding churches — Seymour United Methodist, Seymour Christian Church and Holy Trinity Lutheran — CROSS has now grown into a group of 16 houses of worship from across the Christian spectrum. Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Presbyterians and non-denominational churches are all involved in the ministry.

“The churches are behind CROSS,” Greene said. “And our businesses, locally, support us. We just had a dinner and auction, and (almost) no one turned us down (for help).

“And I think one of the reasons behind that, is it’s 100 percent volunteer. They know when they support this ministry that its going out to the community as help.”

The only downside to being a completely volunteer organization is the dependence on voluntary schedules.

“There are no paid positions,” Greene said. “Every penny that comes in either goes to our clients or the upkeep of this building.

“(And) our volunteers, what they volunteer for, they’re here and doing a good job. But our volunteers’ average age is 70-75. We’ve got one young lady 93-years-old that never misses.

“When it’s her time to work she’s here and she does everything she needs to do. But a lot of our volunteers are getting to the age where they say they’re no longer able to do this.”

Therefore, CROSS is always open to new blood in the volunteer rotation.

“The problem with most of the young people is when we’re open they’re working,” Greene said. “But we have a lot of other activities that they can help in. We’ve got four major fundraisers and you’ve got to have volunteers for all of those.”

Greene said CROSS normally serves 250-300 families a month. Most of their food comes from the Seymour Food City location, which has been extremely helpful to the organization over the years.

“We try to support Food City and what they do, because they support us,” Greene said. “And they always give us a donation at the end of the year. They help us tremendously.”

To learn more about CROSS, visit crossfoodministry.org or call 579-6192.