DUNWOODY, Ga. — Dunwoody religious organizations have rallied resources and partnerships to meet community needs including food assistance, housing security and winter clothing. With no cessation in sight for the pandemic, complex demands have spiked leaving many families exasperated. The assistance has aided families in Dunwoody and around the world.
Volunteers from First Baptist Church Atlanta have led the way assisting seniors, refugees and children through several missions. The church’s preschool created care cards for residents at Cedarhurst Assisted Living Facility. Last spring, the church assembled and donated 280 Easter baskets for three assisted living facilities. A mission partnership with Idong Ekandem collected food and essential items and made deliveries over two weeks to refugees living in nearby Clarkston.
“This pandemic has heightened our awareness of the pressing needs all around us. We have been inspired to do more by the example of other congregations in Dunwoody who are doing so much to show God’s love to those in need,” Senior Pastor Dr. Anthony George said.
The church has held six Red Cross Blood drives collecting at least 500 life-saving units. On Dec. 19, the church partnered with Operation Care International to host “The Gift Atlanta,” as part of the “Largest Christmas party in the World.”
Protective masks were also a high priority for the church and a local synagogue.
Volunteers from Temple Emanu-El stitched and donated 255 masks. The synagogue’s Social Justice Committee has collected 2,380 pounds of food for the Community Assistance Center (CAC), delivered 3,500 lunches to women and children at the Mary Hall Freedom Village, and donated 350 coats for men, women, and children. Home cooked hot meals were provided to the Zaban-Paradies Center, a couples-focused homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta.
“There are many families — right here in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs — who are cold and hungry. It is our sacred obligation to help them,” Julie Mokotoff and Wendy Frank, the Co-Chairs of the Social Justice Committee said.
Consistent food delivery became an early and continued priority for Dunwoody Baptist Church.
The church delivered food to six local non-profits, who feed over 1,000 people per week. In three months, 12,000 pounds of food were delivered. Volunteers are tutoring children served by Cross Cultural Ministries in Doraville. During the holidays, food, clothing, and blankets are being donated to Ministry partners in Clarkston, Doraville, and Atlanta.
“The pandemic opened up new partnerships for us with other Dunwoody churches, as well as MidWest Food Bank and the new Solidarity food pantry in Sandy Springs,” Missions Pastor Jeff Reams said. “Currently, we continue to provide financial assistance to ministries in need of food and increased support for rent and utility assistance.”
Dunwoody United Methodist Church has partnered with Rise Against Hunger for the last decade to assemble dehydrated meals for children around the world. An annual event called “Foodstock 2020,” brought 1,008 socially distanced volunteers to assemble meals for the Children of Vietnam program. The effort yielded 266,196 packaged meals. To date, Dunwoody UMC’s partnership with Rise Against Hunger had sent 3 million meals overseas.
Chris Mixer, Director of Missions at DUMC said, “These meals are critical to keeping young preschool and kindergarten children healthy and able to continue coming to school.”
Activities at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta moved online earlier this year.
Senior programming includes fitness classes and virtual city tours. The school day program called “Club J Your Way” was adjusted to accommodate full and partial day student schedules. The program benefits working parents and assists students with virtual learning, while including “brain breaks” and camp-style activities.
“(We offer) financial aid and scholarships with the goal that no one is turned away for inability to pay,” Director of Marketing Keely Sime said.