OWATONNA — “Some people fall on rough times and some people need a little bit of help. We just want those people to know that God has their back.”
Or so says Tony Caywood, who has been a member of Christian Family Church for a number of years.
While the church is well known for its massive community Easter egg hunt in the spring, Caywood has been helping head up and organize the congregation’s lesser-known act of community service.
For the last seven years, Caywood and other members of the CFC congregation have been handing out what some people are missing most during the holiday season: something to eat and a word with God. On Tuesday, Nov. 26, the group will be in Owatonna’s downtown Central Park at 6:30 p.m. to hand out turkeys, hams, and prayers to those in need this Thanksgiving holiday.
“We started doing this within the church and it was actually only about 10 people who received them for the first couple of years,” Caywood explained. “About four years ago we were able to come out and offer it to the community. We have much bigger numbers now.”
In 2018, the group from CFC handed out 50 turkeys and 50 hams to the public. This year, Caywood said they have 75 of each entrees to hand out — all thanks to generous members of their congregation.
“There are a couple of people here at the church that have been through some tough times when they were younger,” Caywood said. “God brought them to the position they’re at now, so they donate the money to pay for the turkeys and the hams. They have allowed us to branch out into our community.”
Going on a first-come, first-serve basis, Caywood said that anybody is welcome to visit the group in Central Park on Tuesday to collect either a turkey or a ham and to talk with one of the volunteers about anything they would like to pray about. Over the years Caywood said it has been an emotional yet rewarding process, stating that the evening shows the real need in the community.
“This weekend our pastor was talking about how sometimes people just need a win. This is a win for the community,” he explained. “When it comes down to the holidays, we know that there’s family loss and family feuds. We’re just trying to show God’s love to people.”
Caywood stated that there are no “qualifications” necessary to collect a food item or a prayer from the CFC group, noting that “God takes you as you are.” Any food items that are left over by the end of the evening will be donated to the Steele County Food Shelf.
“This is about reaching back to the community and helping out,” Caywood added. “It’s something that the Lord has given the fire to these people to do — giving back and looking out for people.”