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FINDING THE NEED: Churches join to help food-scarce families

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WAKE FOREST — On Saturday, Patrick Delaney looked around a neighborhood of low-income housing just out of eyesight of downtown Wake Forest.

“Need hides,” Delaney said at the corner of North Taylor Street and East Cedar Avenue.

“It can be down the street from you or two doors down or across the railroad tracks. You can either ignore it or you can do something to lessen that need,” he added.

Delaney and a team of volunteers have been coming to this neighborhood as part of the Adopt-A-Block program headed up by the Raleigh Dream Center, a faith-based nonprofit focused on feeding and meeting other needs of inner-city residents.

Saturday’s event was the one-year anniversary of the program in this Wake Forest neighborhood.

For two hours on the second and fourth Saturday of the month, volunteers put up shelter tents, load tables with free groceries and set up outdoor activities such as children’s music and soccer in the field. Residents, including children, come outside with empty stomachs ready to eat and celebrate.

Because the group is a faith-based outfit, there’s also an area set aside for community prayer and gospel sharing.

“The way need is assessed is through partnering with a local church,” explained Robert Johnson, head coordinator for the Adopt-A-Block program, who oversees this and five other biweekly outreaches in the Raleigh area. “In this case it was Restoration Church in Wake Forest who called us and wanted help in servicing this area.”

Further credit for the idea of helping the area, according to Delaney, should go to Tilda Caudle of the Northeast Coalition.

Whenever there is a request for service, the group stages several test-run event days to assess if the area is a good candidate for more regularly scheduled outreach.

“We did our first two events here for Thanksgiving and Christmas 2018,” said Delaney, who is part of the outreach support. “Those went extremely well and we’ve been coming back regularly since January last year.”

According to Delaney, 539 homes have received groceries from the group, reflecting 1,803 people. For its 2019 Christmas outreach, Adopt-A-Block wrapped and distributed 175 gifts.

In terms of volunteers, 373 people representing 17 area churches have donated their time over the past year.

With all those accomplishments, the group isn’t content with just helping one area of Wake Forest. There are discussions of adding a second Adopt-A-Block site in the Wake Forest soon.

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