By six o’clock Sunday morning, volunteers from The Bridge Foundation are set up and ready to serve sack lunches and drinks in downtown Phoenix. Madison and 12th Avenue is a gathering spot for those without a home or place to sleep, and a place where they can find a meal and perhaps a friend or two.
After seven years, The Bridge Foundation volunteers recognize many of the same faces week after week. Their outreach began in September 2005 with 25 sack lunches and five gallons of water for coffee and hot chocolate. Seven years later, The Bridge Foundation is providing 250 sack lunches each Sunday morning. Beginning with 15 volunteers from the Fountain Hills Community Seventh-day Adventist Church, The Bridge Foundation is now comprised of 30 workers from various church groups.
“Our hot drinks are the talk of the shelter,” said Diane Morea. She and her husband, Len, have been volunteering since the beginning. “They call us ‘Stuart’s Best’ in honor of our pastor, Stuart Harrison, who serves on the coffee line every week.” The group distributes bottled water, hot food, donuts (donated by the Donut Peddler), popcorn (donated by Pollack Tempe Cinemas), orange juice and bananas—plus an abundance of genuine friendship. Haircuts are provided for those who want them. Another volunteer is available to fix bicycles.
“Recently, we had a communion service complete with foot washing,” added Harrison. “We had over 120 volunteers that day, many of whom are still helping. Our main reason for being here is to reach people for the kingdom and to share the love of Christ.”
Recently, Family Life Radio and The Bridge Foundation joined to present “Veggie Tales: The Penniless Princess” at two area theaters. Admission was simply a donation of peanut butter, jelly, paper bags, sandwich bags, napkins, chips, cookies, instant coffee, hot chocolate mix, sugar, creamer, water or juice.
On the third Sunday of each month, clothing and hygiene kits donated by Discovery Point church in the city of Surprise, Arizona, are made available. Lunches are prepared in the church foyer at the Fountain Hills Community church in after the service. Food comes from donations from board members, the Lopez family, the Arizona Business Women’s Association, Kaleidoscope Printing and other private donations. The Lambs Offering at the church also goes toward purchasing food for The Bridge Foundation. Harrison estimates monthly expenditures for feeding the homeless average $1,700.
This article originally appeared in Pacific Union Recorder, September 2010.