Members of the New Hurley Reformed Church in the Town of Plattekill have been busy lately, lending a helping hand to those in need.
Every first Sunday of the month they bring food to the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in the Hamlet of Wallkill, providing the pantry with additional support on Christmas and Thanksgiving. The congregation also donates soup and money to the food pantry during an event called “Souper Bowl Sunday,” which takes place on the day of the game.
The second Saturday of each month, members of the congregation cook and serve dinner and distribute clothing as well as blankets to homeless people at the corner of South Clinton and Main Streets in Poughkeepsie. This is part of Hope On A Mission, which was recently featured on NBC’s Today Show.
The idea for the church to become involved in the program came after Bonnie Crisci, a member of the church, helped out with a program called Saturday Samaritans while visiting her daughter in Oregon. Similar to Hope On A Mission, volunteers prepared food at a church and served it to the homeless population of Portland, Oregon.
“I was just so immensely moved by that experience and watched what happened in that little tiny kitchen in that church, that little tiny stove,” Crisci said.
The church was trying to raise money to purchase a commercial grade stove in order to cook food more efficiently. After seeing all the good the church had done, Crisci and her friends made a quilt, which they raffled off in a fundraiser to help the church purchase the stove. Between the raffle tickets and donations, Crisci was able to raise more than enough money for the stove.
After that, Crisci directed her attention to helping homeless people in the Hudson Valley. She learned of Hope On A Mission from Kay Swanson, another congregant of New Hurley Reformed Church. After volunteering on her own, Crisci recruited a few church members to help. The founder of the program, Cara Mia Bacchiochi, was impressed by their work and asked the church to cook and serve dinner the second Tuesday of each month. Since the church began preparing meals for Hope On A Mission in October, congregant turnout has been excellent. Crisci estimates that approximately 90 percent of the congregation pitches in, whether it be serving or preparing the food or through donations.
“The back of my truck is absolutely loaded when we drive over to Poughkeepsie,” she said.
Last month there was a COVID-19 outbreak among the homeless population in Poughkeepsie. Members of the church packed the food in to-go containers to limit contact with the homeless people. Bacchiochi and several others dispersed the food.
The church helps people both near and far. Members of the congregation donate cans and bottles that are recycled for money. When they collect $125, they send a check to the Reformed Church of America with a notation to purchase water hippo water rollers for people in African nations. These are devices used to carry clean water more easily and efficiently. It consists of a barrel-shaped container which holds the water and can roll along the ground as well as a handle attached to the axis of the barrel.
New Hurley provides Christmas cheer to children all over the world. Each year they fill shoeboxes with toys, clothing and personal hygiene items and send them to children in need. In celebration of her 80th birthday in 2020, congregant Pat Karnig packed over 80 shoeboxes.
“Anything for Operation Christmas Child!,” Karnig said.
Similarly, members of the church work with Compassion International, an organization that enables individuals to sponsor a child as well as their family. The congregants support them financially with a monthly payment and keep in close contact with the family.
Helping those in need in turn gives the members of the New Hurley Reformed Church joy.
“When you give, you receive,” Crisci said. “When you give to someone what you receive back is the joy on their faces and the joy knowing that you helped someone less fortunate. You’re blessed 10 times over by giving to someone and we at New Hurley know that.”
The New Hurley Reformed Church will gladly accept donations of gently used blankets, hats, gloves, winter shoes, boots and winter coats (men’s and women’s sizes) for Hope On A Mission. Those interested in donating can contact the church at 845-851-8398 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.