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Warm Blessings celebrates two years

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By Marty Finley

By MARTY FINLEY

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mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com ELIZABETHTOWN – It started with two people. But two years can make a considerable difference. Warm Blessings — a nonprofit, all-volunteer group that operates a food ministry from the basement of College Heights Methodist Church in Elizabethtown – opened its doors two years ago and is celebrating the growth it has seen. The outreach program started humbly, serving only two people its first night. But by its one-year anniversary, 87 people were on hand to partake of the food. In late April, Warm Blessings hit a milestone with 91 people served in one night. Linda Funk, executive board chairwoman for Warm Blessings, said they now serve an average of 50 to 55 people on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights. The service aims to assist people who are in need, including disabled residents, low-income families and the elderly. Funk said the volunteers represent businesses, civic clubs, churches and Sunday schools in the community. Others are simply residents who want to lend a hand. The official anniversary was July 17, but the group postponed the celebration because vacation Bible school was occurring the same week. The group shares the basement facilities with the church, which hinders the soup kitchen from serving more nights a week — something they want to begin doing. “People are hungry more than three days per week,” said Vickie Green, volunteer coordinator. Warm Blessings hopes to expand the ministry by moving into a larger facility with enough space to include an emergency shelter and extend its meals to additional nights. Funk said the group wants expanded kitchen space and to have more refrigerator and freezer space for the food. The group also plans to begin workshops to help those they serve with problems, particularly finances, by offering strategies and methods to stretch their money and live a more abundant life., Green said. However, the move cannot come without additional funding, Funk said. To provide for the need, the board currently is planning a fundraiser titled “Cardboard Nation: A Homeless Experience,” which will give residents a chance to step into the soles of a homeless person. Funk said residents will seek pledges so they can rent a cardboard box, where they will spend 12 hours living the homeless lifestyle. The event is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Sept. 5 at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College The Culinary Department at the college will provide a soup and sandwich line. The event also will host a silent auction and cornhole games. Funk said she would like to see Warm Blessings in a new facility by the third anniversary, but money from the fundraiser will a the gauge of how quickly it will become a reality. As for the celebration this year, the group plans to do it tonight while serving food. “We’re gonna keep it simple,” Funk said. Simple will include a cake symbolizing the event that will be served to both patrons and volunteers. Funk said volunteers also will be honored for their service and commitment to the ministry — a service that is vital to its continuance. “It’s a great community effort,” Funk said. Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.