In our everyday lives a convenience store is truly no big deal. We only notice them when we need something quick or need to fill up a gas tank. However at Feed Lake Highlands, convenience stores are a big part of our story.
The New Room, where we hold a majority of our programs, was once a convenience store that closed. The congregation of Lake Highlands UMC after much prayer took ownership of that space and renovated it into the space we use today.
And this past month, another convenience store closing has been an ongoing blessing for our organization.
In early February, Jill Goad received a call that a convenience store in the neighborhood was being closed by a special task force, Project Safe Neighborhood. On the day of the closing, the task force asked uniformed officers from the Northeast Substation to be present during the closing. Due to the abrupt closing, these two teams were looking for an organization in which to donate the inventory of the store. What we didn’t know at the time was when these teams said “convenience store inventory” they truly meant everything in the store.
Within 30 minutes of the call, we had seven SUVs and the LHUMC van at the storefront. The police department and the property management company, Hopkins Commercial, were helping our team to load every car with snacks, drinks, ice cream and cleaning supplies that lined the shelves of the store. We cleaned out the place, and what a haul it was!
We drove everything back to The New Room and sorted each bag, pile and box onto tables, which at the end, resembled our own little convenience store. Once we saw the inventory, we got excited about the EPIC Students having peanut butter crackers as an option for snack, the Food Distribution Program Members picking out canned drinks as a treat for their families, and our summer campers digging through various bags of chips until they found just the right one for the bus ride home from Kids Across America Camp in Missouri.
We spent hours strategically packing bins of convenience store donations, but in the back of all of our minds, we could not stop thinking about how full circle this experience was for all of us. A recently condemned convenience store will be a blessing for many months to come for our organization that meets in an unrecognizable, transformed convenience store, which allows us to be in the lives of so many in our community.
We are so grateful for Project Safe Neighborhood, Hopkins Commercial and the Northeast Substation for their thoughtfulness and support.
So while it may be unconventional to say, convenience stores are a big part of our story, and we couldn’t be more thankful.