Love Wins: Feeding the hungry and feeding our spirits

Hopefully, you’ve heard about the UUFR Action Lot by now, where UUFR members meet up to donate items to charity, swap puzzles, and more. This weekly meetup began thanks to Linda Liles and her tireless efforts to feed the hungry in partnership with Love Wins Ministries. 

Here, Linda explains how this project got started and how it continues during the pandemic. If you are looking for a way to serve others during the holidays and beyond, Love Wins is for you. Go to their Signup Genius to see how you can help.  

Linda Liles
Linda Liles in the UUFR Action Lot, collecting donations for Love Wins

By Linda Liles, Hunger Ministry

Four years ago, UUFR sponsored LEAP, a one-day social justice initiative where members fanned out across Wake County to serve the community. I was asked to organize a lunch that day at Love Wins Community Engagement Center, which provides food and fellowship to people who are homeless or hungry.

It was so successful that UUFR members decided to provide and serve a lunch every other month. At that time Love Wins was at Open Table United Methodist Church. Our members, as well as the people we served, loved not only feeding people but having interaction with each other and building relationships. We cooked, we served, we sat and talked.

We eventually moved to having monthly lunches and started meeting at St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church. We have formed lasting relationships with lead Pastor Vance, Pastor Fenton, Pastor Trey, their Chef Billy, their peer counselor Blu, and other staff members, as well as the homeless, at-risk, and food insecure populations they serve.

About nine months ago, they started providing only take-out meals due to the coronavirus. We still take a hot meal once a month to their Chef Billy to prepare, but we have not been able to serve meals and interact. So we started something new.

We now make a supply run out of the Action Parking Lot every Friday, in addition to the monthly lunches. I talk to Chef Billy on Tuesdays to create a list of what they need and then create a Signup Genius for it. The response from the UUFR congregation has been overwhelming, and we deliver a car full plus a pickup truck full (thanks to Theresa Rubin and Stephen Hawthorne) every week.

Theresa Rubin and Stephen Hawthorne
Theresa Rubin and Stephen Hawthorne in the Action Lot

I also think our members appreciate a chance to meet in the parking lot and visit with each other, with masks and social distancing, of course. It is now the only time we get to see each other in person. Other initiatives have joined us, collecting for immigrant families and providing voter information.

Many of our members donate supplies and food for the lunches and help deliver to Love Wins. For example, for Pastor Fenton’s recent birthday we contributed not only a cake but many gift cards.

My husband Billy (not to be confused with Chef Billy) and I have always enjoyed organizing food events at UUFR. And we love to cook and I bake cakes. We are long-time members and both have served on the board.

Over the years, we have become more and more involved with Love Wins. You could say that it is my passion!

Recently, Billy delivered metal folding chairs to them that we had been trying to give away due to renovations in Peace Hall, so there is more than food involved now. We honor special requests: a family birthday cake for a grandson, a basket of okra while it’s still in season, Lactaid milk for the staff who are lactose intolerant. Lots of Ramen noodles for the homeless living in camps around Raleigh who have access to a grill for cooking.

On Christmas, UUFR will be providing a hot lunch for 200 people. There’s still time to contribute.

Linda Liles, along with other Love Wins volunteers, will continue to be in Action Lot every Friday from 10:30-noon, feeding the hungry and feeding their own spirits. Go to their Signup Genius to see how you can help, or contact Linda at [email protected] to be added to her weekly email list.