Twin Lakes Church's “Kindness Projects” raised more than one million pounds of food for Second Harvest Food Bank, $104,000 for Northern California fire relief and more, the church announced recently.
“I am in tears,” said Willy Elliott-McCrea, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank, when presented with the church’s check. “Completely speechless.”
The food drive was part of a larger kindness campaign: Church members were encouraged to spot large and small ways to be kind. The church then made “kindness grants” available to help fund their ideas.
Among dozens of kindness projects, bags stuffed with gift cards were given to every one of the 120 staff members at Aptos High School; the outstanding bills for a Cabrillo college student were paid; all the remaining costs for the Salvation Army homeless winter shelter were covered; church volunteers staffed three weeks of the winter shelter program; 568 new pajamas for homeless children were collected; volunteers cleaned beaches; and more.
“We focused on doing Kindness Projects because incivility is such a problem in our culture right now,” said René Schlaepfer, Twin Lakes Church senior pastor.
Schlaepfer said he believes that’s particularly a problem for churches.
“As people of faith, kindness should define us," he said. "But a common perception is that we’d rather start a fight than do a kindness. So we wanted to do our part to change that narrative.”
Schlaepfer added that the Kindness Projects are not just about being nice.
“Kindness has more power than we imagine," he said. "It has the power to break down walls, promote healing, and really change the world. And we believe our kindness grows out of God’s kindness to us.”