Like millions of other Americans, Army veteran Charles Cummings found himself without a job in 2020. But he hasn’t given himself any time off waiting for the economy to pick up.
Cummings is now devoting his time to Sharing Life Community Outreach, distributing meals to drive-thru food pantries and families in need.
“It’s God using me or any of these people who are doing the deliveries just to make sure his people are cared for,” said Cummings.
According to Spectrum Local News, more than 100,000 families have received supplies from the food bank since March, many delivered by Cummings and his volunteer partner Rae Ferris.
“This is what we do, we volunteer for this,” the veteran said. “It’s a calling.”
Cummings and Ferris not only donate their time to the effort, they also pay for the fuel it takes to transport meals from their Mesquite, Texas, facility throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“Why sit there in front of a TV day in and day out? Why sit at a table in front of your computer when you can get out here and make friends?” Cummings said.
The demand for food and necessities has continued to rise as the stress of unemployment is compounded by COVID-related restrictions, which may not be lifted until 2021.
“The holidays at Sharing Life may look different due to the COVID pandemic, so we’re going to spread holiday cheer in a brand new way!” The Sharing Life Outreach website reports. “Instead of hosting our annual in-person Christmas Faire this year, Sharing Life plans to bless *100 families by helping with not only Christmas food and toy needs, but by providing housing and utility assistance, too! The criteria is a little different, but it will allow us to make a significant impact in the lives of those families we help.”
In the meantime, volunteers like Cummings are in short supply, but all the more critical. Without them, food backs are forced to rely on paid services like Uber and Star Transit. Yet, Cummings is glad to help until his own employment status changes for the better. The veteran has so far helped the food bank deliver more than 8,000 meals to families in need, with more and more each day.
“These are people who really need this; they’re not just people who are putting their names in the hat just to get it for free,” Cummings said.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.