OKUMC partnerships make merry
In mid-December, Skyline Urban Ministry surprised its patrons when they came in for their monthly food resource pickup. In addition to food resources and an eye clinic, Skyline also offers a style shop, where patrons can shop for clothing for under five dollars per piece. School clothes are also offered at the shop.
This year, the style shop featured a Christmas pop-up shop. With donated toys and clothes and other gifts spread throughout the style shop, parents had an opportunity to “shop” for gifts for their children.
On one of the shopping days, Oklahoma City Thunder players Lu Dort, Isaiah Joe, and Eugene Omoruyi stopped in, along with other Thunder staff, to help shop and bring good cheer to participating families. As part of the Thunder’s Holiday Assist program, the team’s representatives bring toys, gifts, Thunder merchandise, visibility, and more, to organizations around the metro area. Skyline patrons were delighted to meet players and Rumble the bison mascot, the Thunder Girls, and the Stormchasers.
The event was made possible by donations from the community, and by relationships with area churches, many of which are United Methodist. Chapel Hill, Mosaic, Quail Springs, Blanchard, and others provided a substantial number of gifts this year, plus financial assistance so Skyline staff could do the shopping if that was easier.
“Chapel Hill has a long-standing relationship with Skyline,” said Peggy Burris, Chapel Hill’s coordinator for Skyline programs. “I would say two thirds to three fourths of our church participates in some way.”
Some people prefer to give money, because it’s easier, especially during the pandemic. Older adults or those with mobility issues prefer to let someone else do the shopping. Sometimes that’s Burris; sometimes it’s the Skyline staff and volunteers. Burris said, “This year, they gave us an Amazon wish list, and that was great. Because since the pandemic, everyone is very good at ordering on Amazon.”
On the subject of service, Burris had some good advice. “People say, ‘I’m just one person, what can I do?’ Actually, you can do a lot. And when you come together, you can make a big impact.”
Burris added, “It’s really important for us to do that right now. It feels like everything is out of control. I think you can find something somewhere, to be of assistance.”
Burris added that she would be glad to talk other churches and groups through the process of starting this Skyline tradition – or one like it.
Skyline also has a mobile food pantry program which, again, is hosted mainly by United Methodist churches. Clark Memorial’s Lazarus Community, Wesley UMC, and Southern Hills are three of the partners noted by communications coordinator Joel Allen. “We cover a lot of ground, with 14 sites throughout the metro area. We visit each site once a month, and we really get to learn more about how that community operates.”
Allen added, “Some of these churches are community hubs. This is a great program part of what they’re doing. Some of the churches double the impact by offering additional services at the same time.”
“It’s really unbelievable to see,” marveled Carlos Ramirez, newly appointed to Southern Hills OKC. “We take a truck and meet down at the stockyards. Everything gets unloaded, people eat, and it’s cleaned up, all within an hour.” He also added, “There’s more than just food. They do pet food once a month. There are other organizations, too. People get lunch, food, clothing, shoes. There’s medical stuff. We’re there on Tuesdays, and we’re hoping to find a church to take another day.”
Skyline’s mobile food pantry is hoping to expand and add more locations in areas where they see a need.
For churches looking to provide direct services to unhoused or low-income families, Skyline is a good place to start. For more information, churches may contact Skyline or any of the churches serving the organization.