As many as 100 volunteers serve as the engine behind Lutheran Congregational Services’ S.O.S. Warehouse ministry. This week LCS, a service of Liberty Lutheran, hosted a “thank you” luncheon for volunteers as a way to express appreciation for their help with the program over the last three years.
“It continues on with the help of all of you, your time, volunteering, sweat and hard work,” LCS Executive Director, The Rev. Dr. Jennifer Ollikainen, said to the small group of volunteers gathered at Borderline Restaurant in Bethlehem.
S.O.S. is an acronym for the Share Our Surplus Network, a distribution-warehousing ministry that seeks to provide a variety of products at no cost to families in need. Non-perishable items such as laundry detergent, dish washing liquid, fabric softener and bottled water are distributed to nearly 30,000 individuals across the Lehigh Valley each year through organizations such as food banks, thrift shops and soup kitchens.
Mary Simmons and Pastor Ginny Goodwin are the volunteer co-coordinators of LCS’ S.O.S. Warehouse Ministry. Both were recognized with plaques for their dedication and leadership, as well as Mary Simmonds’ husband Pastor Glenn Simmons, who also devotes much of his time and energy to the effort. All of the volunteers who attended the thank-you luncheon received engraved pens.
“The volunteers, after the first time (they help,) every single one wants to come back because they see the value in what we do,” Goodwin said.
Barb Kotsch is one of those volunteers. She got involved with the ministry two years ago through her church, Faith Evangelical Lutheran in Whitehall. Four to five times a year, Barb joins other volunteers at a warehouse in Wilson Township, where she helps coordinate the organizations picking up the donated goods.
“I enjoy volunteering with the warehouse ministry, so I can help people less fortunate than myself,” Barb explained.
The Reverend Dr. Samuel Zeiser, Bishop of the NE PA Synod, also attended the volunteer thank-you luncheon. He told the group how much he values the S.O.S. Warehouse Ministry.
“It gives a visual sense of the breadth of the impact of every hour you spend devoted to this ministry. It means more people are touched by the supplies you helped distribute. You have my utmost respect and admiration,” he said.
“We have the deepest gratitude for your ministry,” Rev. Ollikainen added.
Lutheran Congregational Services is a service of Liberty Lutheran, a social ministry organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Liberty Lutheran annually provides vital resources to more than 61,000 individuals from the earliest stages of life to the advanced stages of aging, through its family of services in Eastern Pennsylvania.