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“What heaven is going to look like”: Celebration Church provides food pantry, Christmas outreach

LAPLACE — This holiday season, Celebration Church of LaPlace is providing nourishment for the hungry and Christmas joy to the needy.

Inspired by a summer school uniform giveaway that blessed more than 35 local families, Celebration Church member Marinet Sanchez spearheaded a food pantry initiative.

“As a child, my family struggled financially,” Sanchez said. “We usually sought help at churches, and they always extended it to us. I thought that’s something we should do here, too, any way we can.”

Opening Nov. 17, the Love Pantry is stocked with canned foods, rice, beans and more collected by Celebration Church members.

David Ford, pastor for the River Parishes campus, said those in need can come as they are and utilize the pantry following church services, no identification or other qualifications needed.

Sanchez said community members are welcome to donate turkey, ham, pasta or other items to Celebration Church Love Pantry, located at 3400 U.S. 51 in LaPlace.

“We would like to give people a nice Thanksgiving meal,” Sanchez said. “I’m excited to show everyone how God can move an idea to something we hope will bless a lot of families.”

Jodie Brawley, Ryan Lemons, Stephanie Gardner, Kevin Barrett and James Fletcher stand beside the Celebration Church Angel tree.

Also starting up this week is the annual Angel Tree Christmas Outreach.

According to Jodie Brawley, Celebration Church children’s minister, each angel on the tree represents a family with children in need, nominated by St. John the Baptist Parish schools.

Volunteers can help an angel by shopping for the children’s wish list items. A community gift-wrapping party will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 5, and the families will receive the items Dec. 8.

Call 985-652-3113 for more information.

Families entering the church will meet a warm and welcoming environment, revamped this month through Celebration Church’s annual Serve Day.

Church member Danica Kavanaugh helps with cleaning during Serve Day.

Last week, River Parishes volunteers cleaned and beautified the church campus with new plantings and paint. Others ventured into the community to clean streets and served food to veterans at Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve.

Ford said Serve Day is held between 11 campuses across Louisiana, and services are tailored to the needs of each parish.

Pastor Aaron Ford said the Veteran’s Home was included in Serve Day in honor of late congregation member Bill Harrier’s passion for helping veterans.

Youth Pastor James Fletcher accompanied teenage youth group members as they picked up litter down U.S. 51.

Church member Kevin Barrett said service builds a connection to the community and its residents.

James Fletcher serves Veterans during Serve Day efforts last week.

“They won’t always see us do the work, but they will see the impact,” Barrett said. “We want to be there. Everyone needs community, everyone needs accountability and everyone needs encouragement. Our Life Groups, Bible study groups, give that to people on a weekly basis.”

Congregation member Stephanie Gardner said Celebration Church is full of friendly people leading lives of value, and Fletcher added the church models God’s kingdom.

“This is what heaven is going to look like,” Fletcher said. “It’s multi-cultural; multi-ethnic. Everyone feels at home.”

Celebration Church services are at 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sunday. Family spiritual growth classes are at 7 p.m. Wednesday, and youth worship service is held at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The Church teaches faith as the one path to Jesus, noting commitment to Christ is not limited to any one denomination.

For more information, call 985-652-3113 or visit celebrationchurch.org/riverparish.