Annual Benefit for Norman Adventist Community Services
Norman » The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) conducted its 25th annual national food drive on Saturday, May 13. The Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive, the country’s largest single-day food drive, provided residents with an easy way to donate food to those in need in the community.
As they delivered mail, the nation’s 175,000 letter carriers collected donations left by residents near their mailboxes. Each year people are encouraged to leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods, such as canned soup, canned vegetables, and other packaged food next to their mailbox before the regular mail delivery.
Every year since participation in this food drive, Norman Seventh-day Adventist Church volunteers have met together Sabbath afternoon to take part in the food drive. Church volunteers assist postal employees and local charities with loading and weighing food from the incoming postal trucks. Once food is weighed, it is distributed among the waiting charities, including ours. Our church volunteers hauled food to the church, and then volunteers spent several hours sorting and boxing it. Receiving this annual infusion of food helps reduce the amount of food that must be purchased by Norman Adventist Community Services (ACS) for the year.
The Norman Adventist Community Services outreach distributes food, clothing and personal care items to neighbors in need on the 3rd-5th Tuesday of every month, from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon. Individuals may use these services three times per year. Carol Buckmaster, Pastor Stan Buckmaster, Opal Vaughn, and other volunteers also provide sheets, blankets, quilts, pillows, towels, and cleaning supplies to families whose homes have been destroyed by disasters.
Carol Buckmaster, Norman’s ACS Director, experiences firsthand the impact this outreach has on our community.
“We assist clients through times of crisis, such as sickness, loss of employment, death in family, and other critical life events. Our clients are very diverse. A few days ago a homeless family of five living in their car came to our pantry and clothes closet. They had been evicted from their apartment after complaining about mold. They had no place to cook, so we let them go through our pantry and select items that had pop-top cans containing fruits, soups and vegetables. There were also packets of whole milk and juices that did not require refrigeration. They also selected laundry soap and personal care items, such as hand sanitizer, wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste and deodorant. They were very appreciative that we had made their circumstances more livable.
Another lady came in and was separated from her husband who was abusive to her. She was low on money and didn’t know where to turn for assistance. While she was shopping in our pantry, I went to see if she was finding what she needed. She turned and threw herself in my arms, sobbing uncontrollably and stating that she’d never been in a situation to have to ask for assistance. I assured her that there came a time when everyone needs help. I prayed with her and gave her encouragement.”
In 2015 and 2016, the Norman ACS served over 5,000 neighbors with food, clothing and personal items. Our primary source of funds is received from church members and three percent of our church’s monthly combined budget. Since our fellowship hall is used for a Cleveland County voting precinct, voters notice that we are helping those in need and will come by later and donate.
The Oklahoma State ACS Director, Stan Buckmaster, and our local pastor, Harvey Gil, are supportive of the humanitarian ministry in the community. The ACS ministry is operating out of the small fellowship hall which is shared space. The Norman Church is looking for funding to include another room of equal size dedicated to ACS. The lack of dedicated space creates much more work for the volunteers, some of whom are octogenarians. Please pray for our continued success in serving our neighbors and planting seeds of hope and salvation.