Canton FUMC girls serve lunches to day laborers


Reprinted with permission from the Cherokee Tribune
By LAURA BRADDICK Cherokee Tribune
For almost a year, two young members of Canton FUMC have been quietly bridging communities one peanut butter sandwich at a time.

AnnMarie Sullivan and Kristin Steinberg, who have been friends as long as they can remember, participate in service projects regularly.

At Cherokee High School, the girls, both juniors, volunteer their time in Alpha, a service club.

Through CrossTraining Ministry, a youth group at Canton FUMC, the girls work with local outreach.

"We decided we wanted to do more," said Kristin, 16, daughter of Cory and Keith Steinberg of Holly Springs.

Searching for a way to make a difference, they looked no further than about a mile down the road from their church.

Since last summer, the girls have been assembling lunches nearly every week to pass out to day laborers near the intersection of Hickory Flat Highway and Marietta Road.

"It's pretty much a routine we've got down," said AnnMarie, daughter of Jeanne and Dave Sullivan of Holly Springs.

With help from church and family donations, AnnMarie and Kristin pick up supplies and gather at the church kitchen to make sandwiches and pack about 40 lunches every Tuesday evening.

Each brown bag contains a peanut butter sandwich, cookies, a bottle of water and a Bible scripture in English and Spanish.

Members of the church's men's ministry pass the lunches out on Wednesday mornings.

"The girls came to me and said 'We were thinking about day laborers, and what we could do to help them,'" Associate Pastor Ed Towers said of how the girls approached him with their idea.

He said the men seem very appreciative of the lunches, which are distributed in the morning before they go to work.

"We don't do preaching or anything. We just want them to know people care about them," Towers said. "A sandwich and a bottle of water may not be the greatest thing, but if you don't have anything, it certainly is."

The girls were inspired after participating in the Nehemiah Project, a Christian-based summer event where young people complete community service programs across the county.

"We talked about building bridges with simple things," Kristin said. "We thought about the day laborers and how giving them a sandwich would be doing something to build a connection of faith."

Church Youth Director Steve Klaesius said teens come up with projects often, but despite good intentions, the ideas sometimes fall by the wayside.

"I knew if anybody could keep something going, it'd be these two," he said of AnnMarie and Kristin.

What's more remarkable, Klaesius added, is the "low-key" manner in which they have undertaken their idea.

"It's not about them, but this call they felt," he said. "I don't think most people even know who's doing it."

AnnMarie and Kristin, who plan to graduate next spring and go on to college, said they hope the project continues.

"We wanted it to become more," AnnMarie said. "We want it to be a project we can claim as a youth group."