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Santa Rosa food pantry celebrates 15 years of doing God’s work

Fifteen years have passed since the menace of hunger in Sonoma County spurred to action the congregations of a Jewish synagogue and a Methodist church that shared a sacred space in Santa Rosa.

Elisha’s Pantry was created in July of 2005 alongside the Yulupa Avenue sanctuary shared at the time by Congregation Shomrei Torah and Christ Church United Methodist. Soon, members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church joined in, donating dollars and volunteer hours to the food pantry named for the prophet credited with miracles that included feeding more than 2,000 disciples with just 20 loaves of barley bread and some ears of corn.

Throughout the past decade and a half, volunteers have gathered at the small, ambitious pantry each Thursday to freely distribute food to between about 50 and 90 families. The recipients leave with fresh produce from the adjacent Harvest for the Hungry garden and also nonperishable and other foods purchased from the Redwood Empire Food Bank.

Last Thursday, Elisha’s Pantry celebrated its 15th anniversary. The volunteers would have liked for there to be live music, cake, the sharing of stories and reflections, and abundant hugs and high-fives.

But there is a pandemic going on. Many steadfast volunteers aged 65 or older were unable even to be present.

So younger volunteers and also new pantry coordinator Lien Cibulka and past coordinators Carol-Jean Bouvers and Diane Gunderson were content to mark the milestone with balloons, posters and a selection of celebratory sweets tucked into the bags of food readied for the day’s distribution.

People in need drove into the parking lot beside the pantry and the church, home solely to Christ Church United Methodist since members of Congregation Shomrei Torah built and occupied a new synagogue on nearby Bennett Valley Road. Volunteers smiled behind masks as they placed wholesome food in backseats and trunks.

For more information on Elisha’s Pantry, visit: https://www.srchristchurch.org/about-us

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