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Magnifying the power of one this Sunday
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Jim Todd understands the power of one multiplied by a thousand.

It is the building block of faith.

It is also the catalyst of change.

This Sunday Todd is one of many who will take to the streets. A thousand individuals acting as one will put a warm meal in the stomachs of the homeless, improve the community via work in parks and abating graffiti, and hopefully encourage 10-fold more to love thy neighbor.

The love thy neighbor thing is really easy. All it will take is providing canned goods if you can when someone in a green “Takin’ it to the Streets” T-shirt knocks on your door Sunday between 9 a.m. and noon.

How – you might ask– does that show you love thy neighbor?

There are children as well as adults who go to bed hungry in Manteca. This is not a news flash. Manteca has 14 percent unemployment. There are countless others who are on edge struggling to pay bills and keep their families fed. The community’s 10 food closets are overtaxed. The cupboards are close to being bare as demand continues to unfortunately be strong.

If 5,000 households are able to donate three canned good items apiece that would provide 15,000 canned goods. That would be enough to provide 1,000 families with 15 cans of food.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is. Everyone knows how important it is to stretch a dollar today. Just think if you’re a single working mom with a minimum wage job and you have two children to feed plus cover everything else from rent to gas to laundry soap. Those 15 cans could stop hunger pains from gnawing at your child’s stomach.

Volunteers will canvas Manteca south of the railroad tracks east of Union Road. Those not within the canvas area can drop canned foods off at Golden West School on North Main Street from 9:30 a.m. until noon.

The canned food drive is just one of 25 outreach projects being undertaken by Crossroads Grace Community, New Hope, and Northgate Community churches this Sunday. Congregation members will forsake traditional worship services and literally take to the streets with hundreds of other volunteers who may or may not attend other churches.

They will all tell you what Jim Todd will tell you – this isn’t about them. It is about serving whether it is God or your fellow man. The motivation is actually one and the same whether you are Christian, Muslim, agnostic or whatever slant you take.

Todd, who is the outreach pastor at Crossroads, is actually part of a bigger movement.

For cynics out there that equate churches to impersonal edifices it’s a movement that simply has Christians walking the walk.

Crossroads’ monthly 2nd Saturday community outreach that Takin’ it to the Streets is modeled on has been making a difference one person at a time for over three years. For example, during the winter months and early spring they are invited by folks with citrus trees to strip excess fruit they won’t use personally so they can go to food closets.

The food closets are grateful to say the least. Fresh citrus is rare for many families. They also make juice out of citrus that can’t immediately be consumed.

The gleaning of citrus means it won’t simply drop to the ground and rot. It is eloquent genius. A few hours of labor by many fills several pickup trucks with loads of citrus to go to hungry people that otherwise would have gone to waste.

Takin’ it to the Streets isn’t a public relations stunt. Manteca churches aren’t thumping you over the head bragging about their good works like Ben and Jerry’s ice cream where they tell the world how great they are. It is a way to encourage Christians and their brothers – believers and non-believers alike – to come together to make a difference.

Manteca’s church community has a rich history of helping.

It isn’t the federal or state government that secured and provided homeless shelters in Manteca for 20 years. It’s the churches working together. They also provide food help for the general community, a wide variety of critical assistance through Love INC. and undertaken thousands of one-on-one helping-hand gestures involving money, time, and resources to assist individuals and families that may never grace a pew in their respective churches.

This Sunday, all they are asking is for a few canned good items.

It may not seem like much but it can – and will – make a difference in the lives of others.