When I first arrived in Worthington, I was looking for ways to connect to the greater community. I have always valued efforts that address social issues, so when I heard about Love INC, I decided to become involved with the organization.

In my time participating, I have assisted with their intakes for new clients, helped with a furniture delivery, served on the board and have been the board president for the last couple of years. I am grateful for what I learned from this opportunity and the blessings that I received. More than anything, I am grateful for the people I met through Love INC.

I have been humbled and moved by the stories of struggle and resilience from people who received services. I am grateful for the efforts of volunteers, board members and staff alike to find ways to come alongside of people who are struggling. I am thankful for the reality that, through Love INC, we, as churches, are coordinating our resources instead of all trying to “go it alone.” The burden is much less and the quality of what we can provide is much improved when we work together.

I would encourage people who are looking to serve and receive blessings alike to consider volunteering with Love INC. There are a variety of ways to serve. Though work has “pivoted” in this time of COVID 19, there are still many ways people can assist with our efforts.

I know many people in our community are not familiar with Love INC or only certain aspects of the organization. The mission of Love In the Name of Christ (INC), which is part of a national organization, is to mobilize local churches to transform lives and communities In the Name of Christ. Eighteen local churches are Love INC member congregations. Some of the core values are as follows:

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* We are Christian. Everything we think, say, and do is in the name of Christ.

* Prayer is an integral part of who we are.

* We follow Christ's example of valuing the poor and needy.

* We value unity of the Body of Christ.

* We value transformation in the lives of people and communities.

* We value churches living out the two great commandments to love God and love their neighbors.

* We value building Christ-like relationships.

* We value the connectedness of the Love INC movement.

* We model excellence.

* We value continually maturing in our capacity to meet people's needs.

Practically speaking, Love INC comes alongside families who are struggling in a variety of ways. People call the Love INC Clearinghouse with needs. A volunteer listens to person’s situation and helps them complete an intake. This intake involves questions about their health, income, family realities and more.

Through this process, the volunteer seeks to identify resources and opportunities that can benefit the person. The volunteer then works with staff to coordinate resources in the community and access the “gap” (meaning there is a “gap” in services provided in our community) items collected by local congregations. The “gap” items include laundry detergent, baby clothes, cleaning supplies, personal care items, kitchen supplies, winter clothing, bunk beds and more.

In addition, Love INC coordinates a furniture warehouse. People donate gently used items which are redistributed by furniture moving volunteers and staff.

Prior to the pandemic, we offered rides, especially to people going to medical appointments. In lieu of this, we now offer gas cards when possible for medical appointments. Likewise, pre-COVID, we offered rides especially to those who were trying to get to medical appointments. Currently, we offer gas cards when possible to assist with such efforts. Love INC also provides a “Faith and Finance” class periodically as well as other online classes for personal growth.

As you consider your year-end giving, please consider donating to Love INC. We are grateful to many congregations and individuals who have continued to do share their finances despite this challenging time. To commemorate our 10th anniversary, Love INC is modifying the annual Christmas Tree Forest to a Drive Thru Light Display at Olson Park. This event will raise awareness and funds to provide services for individuals and families in Nobles County. It is also a wonderful way to advertise your group and support the community. Businesses and individuals are invited to be a part of our display.

There is no fee, but the registration deadline is Nov. 25. Our theme is “Let Your Light Shine.” There is no charge for the public for this event, however, we encourage free will donations. The event will take place on Dec. 2, 3, 4, and 5, with lights lit from 5 to 9 p.m. Please consider joining us with a display or simply drive through and enjoy the festive lights!

Jeanette McCormick is pastor at Worthington's First Lutheran Church.