NorthStar UMC warms up Black Friday shoppers

Northstar UMC


Bob Orzolek, husband of Pastor Wendy Orzolek, hands out hot chocolate in the pre-dawn hours of Black Friday to chilly shoppers at Target in Exeter Township.

by Suzy Keenan

Pastor Wendy Orzolek, pastor of new church-start, NorthStar UMC, and a faithful team of five found a great way to warm up the Exeter Township community to God’s love.  In the pre-dawn hours they served up hot chocolate and coffee to anxious chilly shoppers waiting in line outside Target on Black Friday.

NorthStar has worshipped together two times to date: once in October and once in November.  The Black Friday outreach was a way for the church to make its presence known to the local community and to share God’s love in a unique way.

Rev. Orzolek said, “Our Black Friday outreach was awesome! Yes, despite the crazy early hour, we had a great time. Even better, the reaction was as we had hoped–people were truly surprised and very appreciative of free coffee or hot chocolate while they waited in line for Target to open.  What a great way to spread some kindness and joy on a typically frazzled, ‘me-first’ kind of day.”

The morning was not without its challenges.  She explained, “Just as Tony was about to put on the backpack full of 5 gallons of hot chocolate, the connection between the spout and hose cracked off and hot chocolate gushed all over the back of my car and into the parking lot! Thankfully, this happened then and NOT when we were serving people in line.  Pastor Gil (New Hanover UMC) had the idea to fill the empty ‘Boxes of Joe’ that we had from Dunkin’ Donuts with the hot chocolate. And, there were even more people who wanted hot chocolate than coffee—especially when they saw we had whipped cream to go with it! Using 10 oz cups, we went through 640 oz (5 gallons) of each beverage in less than one hour!”

The team also handed out cards with the message, “Merry Christmas!  This is a simple way of sharing God’s love!”  On the back of the card was an invitation to Christmas Eve services at the Dunn Community Center, which will be the third worship service for the new congregation.

Although some of the team members were skeptical about how shoppers would receive the outreach, and were also apprehensive about the welcome that they would receive from the Target store, all went well.  Rev. Orzolek explained, “Target security barely paid us any attention. Maybe it helped that we also went around with a garbage bag at the end!”

She added, “It was a really fun way to connect with people and give a gift to the community and to help people see the love of God in a practical way!   A huge ‘thank you’ to Tony, Linda, Chuck, Bob, and Gil for getting up early and serving with such a joyful spirit!”

“It was something simple to touch people’s hearts,” Rev. Orzolek said, “and open them up to hearing something else.”

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