More than 125 residents participated in the first pick-up day Oct. 12 for Lake Christian Ministries’ new grocery pick-up program. Called “A Simple Gesture,” the program has donors collect needed supplies for the nonprofit’s food pantry.

“We are overwhelmed at the level of donor involvement and excitement that this new program has already generated,” said Linda Strup, a LCM volunteer and the program’s coordinator. “This was the first quarterly home pick-up. We planned to start slowly with a goal of 50 households and one or two designated drop-off sites. It was so rewarding to see over 125 households participate in the first quarterly pick-up with some many donations to support those in need.”

Many families in the lake area live in poverty, Strup said. “A Simple Gesture” gives the community an opportunity to help those struggling with food insecurity.

“It is a grassroots, all-volunteer program that promotes awareness of community needs and encourages community engagement,” Strup said. “Participants can involve children and/or grandchildren in the donation process or make this a community outreach project for a neighborhood, club or church.”

Earlier this year, Strup introduced the idea to Jane Winters, LCM’s executive director. A Simple Gesture is similar to a program that was administered in Strup’s previous hometown of Reston.

“Over several years, the Reston A Simple Gesture program enabled the local food pantries to significantly reduce the funds spent on annual food supplies,” Winters said. “Since Centra Medical Group Stroobants Cardiovascular Center has generously underwritten the program costs, we are hopeful that LCM will soon experience a similar reduction in food expenses.”

LCM provides donors with a reusable canvas bag and a list of needed items each quarter. Donors fill their bags with the requested items and leave it outside their homes on scheduled days once each quarter.

Volunteer drivers then pick up the bags and deliver the donated items to LCM. Donors also can drop off bags at LCM or other designated locations – Capps Home Building Center or Trinity Ecumenical Parish. LCM volunteers sort, store, distribute the food and cleaning items and share any excess with other local food pantries.

The next pick-up day is March 8. Items on the list are canned applesauce, peaches, pears and mandarin oranges.

For more information about the program, visit asimplegesturesml.org. For questions, contact Jane Winters at lcmexdr@gmail.com or 297-3214 or Linda Strup at asimplegesturesml@gmail.com.