Mar 05, 2021

St. John’s Ivyland UMC is continuing its fight against hunger in a small but important mission project during this season of Lent. Members are wrapping plastic eating utensils at home to donate to the Trenton (N.J.) Area Soup Kitchen (TASK).

For three years the congregation has packaged hundreds of nutritious meals together on RISE Sundays during Lent, to support the global Rise Against Hunger project (formerly Stop Hunger Now). But COVID restrictions prevented that large-group activity in 2020 and 2021.

“We have tried to keep our congregation involved during this difficult time. We had a food drive where we collected over 1200 pounds of food for two local food banks,” said Ruth Portzline, Certified Lay Minister and Pastoral Associate.  “But we wanted to have a project that our congregation could still do at home, even if they can’t physically be in the church.”

So they turned to wrapping plastic ware at home to provide needed eating utensils to TASK. First, a team of volunteers collects, counts and bags the utensils at the church over two days, while practicing safe distancing.

“Last year we sent them over 9,000 sets of wrapped plastic ware,” reported Portzline, who once ran a community food pantry herself. “We now have collected 10,000 sets of plastic ware, napkins and wrapping bands ready to count out and bag up for members to take home and wrap.”

Meanwhile, the church’s Mission Sewing Team is creating pillow case dresses for little girls in Africa and reusable sanitary pads for young girls in Africa, two home projects that they usually do at the church also on RISE Sunday.

Oh, and they also continued their annual Blessing of the Animals in October on the front lawn, with 50 persons in attendance, and their Drive-through Living Nativity in December. More than 350 cars showed up at that community outreach activity to experience the Christmas Story, and many came to their two Christmas Eve Services.

Want to know more? Contact Pastor Ruth at