Circle of Love provides diapers, feminine and incontinence products to clients who are qualified to use the local FISH Food Pantry. The program was begun by a Lockport 1st UMC member in 2002 who, while working as a volunteer at the Pantry, saw a number of people with babies coming in with little or no money to buy diapers. She then presented her ideas to our church council which gave their approval and blessing to proceed. She created a process to fund the program and to administer the acquisition and distribution of appropriate products to clients. The client base is built with the cooperation of the FISH Food Pantry which provides clients with authentication forms for the Circle of Love. Over the past 11 years, Lockport 1st UMC has funded the Circle of Love through direct giving of the congregation as well as administered the program with a volunteer staff of three – five people. The products are distributed weekly at the church, and they are not available through FISH and cannot be purchased with food stamps. The participants are babies, women and the elderly.
Anyone, churched or non-churched, if they qualify for participation in the FISH Food Pantry program, can participate. The current clientele do not worship at Lockport 1st UMC but the volunteers who administer the program do invite clients to worship as well as other church events, such as free movie nights, the Second Time Around sale, Sunday School for all ages, etc. Some join the activities from time to time.
In 2012, Circle of Love served an average of 49 clients/month, an increase of 10% over the previous year and a 32% increase since 2007. Providing disposable hygiene products for babies, women and the elderly ensures the clients’ human dignity is maintained in the face of poverty. Clients are held in God’s hands when provided with such basic needs.
The Mission Statement of the First United Methodist Church of Lockport states, in part, that “we will support, with our prayers and actions, our brothers and sisters in our local and global communities.” Circle of Love is only one of the ways Lockport 1st UMC has adopted to support our local community.
Circle of Love is supported by the good people of the Lockport 1st UMC at this time. This support comes in the form of cash to purchase inventory, collection of donated diapers, etc., and the volunteer team to acquire and distribute. The church provides storage space, tables, etc. at no charge. A notice on the church door indicates the days and hours of operation for the program.