By Eileen Armstrong, Tillicoultry Baptist Church
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Tilly Community Larder grew from Love…
Love from Jacqueline Primrose for her Community when she spoke to us about her hope that no one in Tillicoultry would have to go to bed hungry.
Some of us, from the many who loved Jacqueline, gathered together in January 2020 to discuss how we might take this idea forward and Tilly Community Food Larder was launched on 1st June 2020.
We began with volunteers and donations from our church but we were soon finding that we were not alone in loving our community and we’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from every part of the Community … other churches, local shops and businesses and individuals.
The first week we gave out about ten parcels to those in need.
By mid July our few tables couldn’t hold all the donations we had received and we received a Grant from Forth Valley NHS to purchase a shelving set followed by a further grant to purchase a second set as the need grew.
The figures for 2021 tell us that we have handed out 1094 parcels involving almost 14000 grocery items. But of course the figures don’t tell the whole story and, there have been stories … so many stories really of the love and help we’ve had from our local Community but also stories of how we’ve been able to give back too ..and not just groceries … but of ourselves.
One story that moved us was from a young lady, now back to working normal hours, who brought three or four bags of groceries to the larder to say thank you for the help she and her mum had received from us the previous Christmas.
Back in September, we realised that, with restrictions easing, we might be able to offer more than a bag of groceries, leaflets and quick chats. We appealed for more volunteers and with three on duty and a bit of reorganisation of tables, we were able to offer coffee and chat . Chats about the vaccines, family issues, financial problems .. and of course about our own faith and beliefs. I should probably mention here that possibly our biggest asset at this time was our “shy, retiring” new minister, Dee Jess, who has been able to befriend, visit and help several of our regulars.
December with Christmas Hampers was a very busy time. We put together, handed out and delivered over 50 hampers and had some wonderful encouraging messages in return.
Various hampers had to be delivered and Dee when doing this, visited a family where the man of the house had just been taken into hospital. He had a call from them on Christmas Eve to say that the gentleman would be allowed home that day if the family could organise transport for him … Enter from Stage Left (not Santa’s elves but ) two of our Larder champions and grandad was back home in time for Christmas much to the delight of his grandchildren.
The current situation has seen our uptake from those in need increase and it is now not unusual to give out 40 parcels in a week and have up to 10 stay for coffee and chat.
Following on from an Easter Cafe in our church, we have been encouraged to see a few larder clients coming along on a Sunday morning and relationships are being built as food and stories are shared.
Please keep Tillicoultry Baptist and their team in your prayers, and if you feel inspired to start up a similar service within your community do just get in touch.