Since 2016, Blessings Repeated, a ministry started by the United Methodist Church in Plankinton, South Dakota, provides hundreds of food boxes on the first Wednesday of each month.
“It is amazing to see what is happening and what God is doing,” said Tara Bush, a member of Plankinton UMC, who coordinates the hunger ministry. “Plankinton UMC has believed in this ministry and is more than willing to do whatever is needed.”
In partnership with Feeding South Dakota, volunteers distribute food to about 100 families each month. Feeding South Dakota brings the food supply to the Blessings Repeated building on the main street, and volunteers come and pack the food items into boxes.
On the first Wednesday afternoon of the month, cars pull up in the alley, and boxes are delivered to the vehicle.
“With COVID-19, we started distributing boxes of food in a drive-through pattern. We have continued that because it works out awesome,” said Tara Bush, a member of Plankinton UMC, who coordinates the hunger ministry. “We don’t have people fill out any form. We try to serve the entire county, Aurora County. We do get people from other counties, and we help them out too.”
Volunteers fuel the ministry. Plankinton UMC provides a core group of volunteers and organizers to make things happen. In addition, there are several community groups and the local school district that have also stepped in to help out.
“This past year, the local high school has encouraged the student council members and student-athletes to help unload the truck and also help distribute. They have been an awesome help. We have also encouraged local businesses to help out, and they have done a lot,” said Bush.
Some small church groups and community organizations often lend a helping hand. For example, groups like United Methodist Men, small group Bible Studies, VFW auxiliary, and Modern Woodmen have donated food items, cash donations, or help pack and distribute food.
Several Hispanic students are active in the effort. “Some of the Hispanic youth have helped out, and that is so great when we need translators,” said Tara. “They come as part of a student athletic team, student council, or they just show up to volunteer.”
The monthly food distribution and partnership with Feeding South Dakota began with a Bible study at Plankinton UMC. “We had a small group of us studying the book of James on Sunday nights,” describes Tara. “It was placed on our hearts that we should be the hands and feet of Christ. So we started bringing food items to the weekly sessions and started Backpack Blessings.”
Soon, they found a need that blossomed into Blessings Repeated, a non-profit community ministry. Blessings Repeated is home to a Thrift Store with clothing and small household items, the monthly food distribution, and Backpack Blessings.
Backpack Blessings distributes weekend food supplies to 175 families each week in three different schools. In addition, the Thrift Store is open for shopping each Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, serving more than 100 customers each week. On a recent Saturday, the store brought in $600 of sales on very reasonably priced items.
Feeding South Dakota provides items for both the Backpack Blessings and the monthly food distributions of food boxes each month. Food donations also come from the local grocery store and also an area food truck vendor.
What motivates this effort? Motivation comes from each other, and God, Tara said. “Our Blessings Repeated group organizers that started with the Bible study are just passionate about helping others. We have trusted in our faith and God to make things happen. A lot of people have the same ideas, but leaning on God has made amazing thnigs happens. We almost have our building paid for; we are way ahead of our payments. Only God can do things like that.”
Feeding South Dakota is one of the three recipients of the 2021 Miracle Offering: Feeding the Dakotas. Our goal is to raise $75,000 to distribute to Feeding South Dakota, Great Plains Food Bank of North Dakota, and local hunger ministries. Feeding South Dakota matches our gift up to $25,000 through membership donations. Access resources for the 2021 Miracle Offering here.