When people think of a church food bank, an image of a building or room with tables, shelves, or even pallets stocked with food may be imagined. But what if the church is small, yet feels compelled to meet a growing need in the community?
For Rickey L. Rasco, pastor of Iowa Park First Assembly of God, and his congregation currently of about 30, the answer was an old armoire.
“We have a group of ladies who meet in Wichita Falls (about 11 miles southeast of Rasco’s Texas community) to pray and do things for people, including giving out something they call blessing boxes,” Rasco says. “The ladies wanted to know if we could do something like that in our church — that’s where the ‘Pay It Forward’ armoire comes in.”
The armoire is a cabinet with two doors with several shelves and a few drawers. Rasco says that the congregation has been excited about stocking the cabinet with canned goods, dry goods, condiments, diapers, dog food — things that people in the community need.
“We also always keep at least three Bibles in our Pay It Forward cabinet,” Rasco says. “We’ve been operating the cabinet for only about three weeks now, and so far at least three Bibles have been taken.”
Rasco, who has been leading the North Texas church for 25 years with his wife, Reda, says they have used social media to tell their community of about 6,700 about the Pay It Forward cabinet. Somewhat to his surprise, local businesses have since contacted the church and are now involved in providing items to stock the cabinet as well.
“We have to restock the cabinet at least once a day,” Rasco says. “But sometimes people will just come and put something into the cabinet — paying it forward.”
One of the unexpected benefits to the Pay It Forward cabinet is that through the social media posts and word of mouth, more people have become aware of the church and its mission to serve. Also, the communication between and support of local businesses could lead to more partnerships in the future.
“Our people are really excited about this . . . and with all the people and businesses involved, it really has become a community effort,” Rasco says. “And now, we’re helping a church in Wichita Falls stock their pantry” and the pay it forward continues.