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    United Methodists of Upper New YorkLiving the Gospel. Being God's Love.

    news article

    Community working together to care for one another

    May 7, 2024 / By LeAnn Childs, Westfield First UMC

    I knew nothing about the commitment of the Westfield community to helping those less fortunate when I started working as the Administrative Assistant at the First United Methodist Church of Westfield (FUMC Westfield) in 2011.  

    Part of my job was checking in food pantry clients. Since my husband is a pastor, I have been in many churches and lived in different communities and have heard about different needs and have made donations. I have never actually gotten to know those that that needed the help. 

    Through my work, I have gotten to know these individuals and families on a personal level. I have worked with them to get as much help as possible, been there to support and cheer them on as their families changed, grew and shifted.  

    The FUMC Westfield has hosted the Westfield Community Food Pantry for over 25 years. This has been an area wide endeavor and relies on help from the community and FeedMore of WNY, an independent, nonprofit organization that’s part of Feeding America and Meals on Wheels America. The community has stepped up to help this be a thriving and much needed and appreciated program in the Westfield-area in the Cornerstone District of the Upper New York Conference. 

    In 2023, the food pantry logged in well over 700 hours in volunteer time from food ordering, food deliveries, packing food, check-ins, food distribution, and paperwork. Volunteers come from all over the village and surrounding areas. Together, we served over 650 families, averaging about 56 families a month. We served 1525 individuals, averaging 127 per month. We provided 13,725 meals, averaging 1144 meals per month.  

    We have received donations from every church in Westfield at least twice a year. We received food donations from individuals and organizations, including some special treats from local Girl Scout troops. We received monetary donations as memorials, in honor of someone's birthday and “just because” donations. Our Reverse Advent, which is sponsored by FUMC Westfield, brought in over 750 items!  

    The nice part about Reverse Advent is that people will gift the food pantry an item every day of the Advent season that are needed to help fill the food pantry shelves. We have added a bonus day for December 25 and encourage people to bring items for Mary and/or baby Jesus. 
    Over time, we discovered there were needs that were not being met with the food pantry, including cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products. These are items most of us take granted. With the help of the Westfield Ministerium (made up of clergy from the village of Westfield), we were able to gift families with a cleaning bucket filled with items like dish soap, laundry detergent, a dish cloth, household cleaner, bar soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and much more. This started as a one-time thing but it was needed and very well received, we began to explore options that would allow us to give these items out more frequently. We have been fortunate that many individuals, churches, and organizations have helped us be able to offer these items multiple times a year. This project has turned into our “Blue Bag Fund.” 
    About six years ago, we discovered that many households did not have the funds for menstrual products and baby care items. We started what is known as our “Pink Envelope Fund.” This fund is used to provide diapers, wipes, formula, menstrual pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and incontinence products. With the generosity of the Westfield Community, we can offer these products for free to those in need in the Westfield area year-round. 

    If you ask me about Westfield, I would tell you that there are many individuals, organizations, and churches that truly care about all individuals in the community. There are many opportunities to help others and many organizations that do help out - just ask anyone in town about Union Relief and the Women of Westfield to name a few. I know that each community has opportunities out there to help others.  

    I know that when you take the opportunity to reach out to give, you get back so much more than you ever give. Opportunities can be something small that others won’t notice, but if it comes from your heart, you will be blessed. I know I have been blessed when receiving something as small as a heartfelt smile. 

    If you feel led to contribute or would like more information, please feel free to contact the church at (716) 326-3243 or email us at To access our website, click here or click one of the links below to see our Amazon wish lists: 

    You can also consider donating in your local area. Take time today to be a blessing to others. 

    TAGGED / Communications / Districts

    With more than 100,000 members, United Methodists of Upper New York comprises of more than 675 local churches and New Faith Communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our vision is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."