Presbyterian and ELCA churches join gift card effort


At a time when people in our communities need support, the Oregon-Idaho Conference of The United Methodist Church is excited to launch Grocery Gift Cards for Families initiative in partnership with the Oregon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Cascades Presbytery.

With a $100,000 grant from the Oregon-Idaho Conference of The UMC, $100,000 from the Cascades Presbytery and $25,000 in contribution so far from ELCA churches in the Oregon Synod, the goal is to respond to people in need during this crisis with dignity and compassion.

With limited access to food pantries and news that the Oregon Food Bank is being stretched thin, this grocery gift card program is more crucial than ever to individual families’ ability to survive. We know for many low-income individuals and families, meeting basic needs such as food, water and shelter was already a challenge, with limited access to community resources. Adding a pandemic on top of this has only made the situation move from bad to worse. It’s our moral obligation as followers of Jesus to help.

“We’re trying to lessen the impact on families that were already struggling before the COVID-19 crisis,” said Rev. Dr. Leroy Barber, director of innovation for the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church. “Gift cards are a quick and easy way to help, while keeping a person’s dignity intact.”

The $1,000 individual grants going to Presbyterian Churches are intended to encourage the congregations to partner with the community in easing the burden that COVID-19 has placed on vulnerable populations.

“Our faith is rooted in looking out for and responding to the needs of those most vulnerable among us,” said Rev. Brian Heron, the Presbyter for Vision and Mission. “Every one of us is vulnerable at some point in our lives and we have a sacred obligation to care for each other.”

While $25,000 has been given so far in support of vulnerable communities, the Oregon Synod of the ELCA has plans to add more fiscal resources to the need.

“When our love comes together, we can have greater impact on our communities,” said Rev. Melissa Reed of the Oregon Synod of the ELCA. “We are grateful to partner with our UMC  and Presbyterian siblings in these times as we witness what the love of God in relationship can do and discover how we will be transformed and liberated by this action with our neighbors.”

Already United Methodist, Presbyterian and ELCA churches have been engaged in this outreach across Oregon and Idaho since the beginning of the pandemic. These recent grants from our Synod, Presbytery and Conference-level offices are meant to inspire even more generosity. The United Methodist, Presbyterian and ELCA churches are pleading with their fellow siblings in Christ, the many generous business partners in communities across Oregon and Idaho, and individuals to join this challenge of getting Grocery Gift Cards for Families into the hands of as many people as we can as quickly as we can.

In some communities this might mean connecting with a local school principal to distribute gift cards to families at the highest poverty level within their neighborhood. In other places, it might mean connecting with non-profits who serve vulnerable individuals such as senior citizens, immigrant families or refugees.

To GET INVOLVED in this project, DONATE, or LEARN MORE, visit www.umoi.org/grocerygiftcards.