By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
WEST POINT — Churches, schools and business in and around the West Point area raised funds and donated food for the Fort Madison Food Pantry through the annual “reverse” Advent calendar project. A traditional Advent calendar involves a person receiving a small gift, such as a piece of candy or small toy, while a reverse Advent focuses on giving — in this case, food or financial donations.
Collection of food and cash during holiday times has taken place for several years, said Maria Rauenbuehler of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in West Point. Three years ago, she was taking an “Empower You” class at Southeast Community College that required a community-wide service project. She had done work for the pantry before and decided to focus her project on it. She became coordinator of the Advent project and helped expand it. The project “has definitely gotten bigger. We have more businesses and more churches involved,” Rauenbuehler said.
Parishes, businesses and schools received a reverse Advent calendar with each day featuring a suggested item for donation. The pantry identified high-item needs or things that might be in higher demand for the holiday season, such as flour for baking. Other examples included macaroni and cheese, canned tuna, boxes of crackers, cookies, flour and spaghetti sauce. People could donate whatever items they wanted, she noted. Before Advent, more than 20 empty boxes were wrapped and delivered to donation sites for collection of items.
Entities participating in the 2021 event included the faith communities of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish and West Point Presbyterian Church, St. James Parish in St. Paul and St. John Parish in Houghton. Holy Trinity Elementary in West Point and Holy Trinity Junior/Senior High School in Fort Madison also participated, as did West Point businesses Sonny’s Grocery Store and Dollar General and City Hall and the public library.