Sexsmith bread ministry an important charitable work for parish and community
By Kyle Greenham
Lucille Partington walks up to another household in Sexsmith, carrying a box filled with bread and buns. It’s now Saturday evening and she’s delivering her final bundle for the day.
It is all a part of the weekly “bread ministry” at Immaculate Conception Church in Sexsmith – just one of several charitable initiatives the parish community is involved with.
For the past nine years, volunteers and parishioners have sponsored and organized this bread ministry, delivering bread each week to families, seniors and impoverished people in the community. While the Immaculate Conception Parish sponsors and organizes this ministry, many different people in the community help with it.
Partington says it’s an effort immensely needed in her town.
“There’s a lot of poverty in Sexsmith,” she said. “We’re a bedroom community of Grande Prairie in essence, so most of our people work in Grande Prairie. However, our taxes, rent and housing prices are lower, so we have a higher number of low-income people.”
The bread is provided by the bakery company Cobs Bread – who first sparked this bread ministry initiative. Each week, Cobs Bread stores across Alberta and Canada produce roughly 10% more bread than what they typically sell, and they give this remainder to a variety of churches, schools and charitable organizations who then distribute the bread to those in need.
Immaculate Conception Parish in Sexsmith is just one of the groups who work with Cobs Bread in this important charitable work. Every Friday evening, around 150 loafs and packages of bread and other bread products are brought to the church. On Saturday morning, a group of volunteers deliver the bread to low-income persons as well as seniors throughout the community. Sexsmith’s pastor Fr. Jeyapaul Packiasamy stays at the church for those who prefer to come grab the bread themselves.
“We have about a dozen people we deliver to, as well as those who come to the church. Then there’s about two dozen seniors who are in need that we also help,” said Partington. “Including children, I’d say its approximately 60 people we help each week.”
For Shannon Ferguson and her eight children, this weekly delivery is a godsend and great help to her family.
Ferguson lives with her partner and their eight children in Sexsmith, and they have a ninth child on the way. The bread ministry through Immaculate Conception Church helps Shannon save at least $220 each month. The ministry has been helping her for the past four years.
“I really love it, it helps quite a lot,” she said. “With eight kids, soon-to-be nine, we go through a lot of bread so it saves me a lot of money.”