Central Christian leads Ukraine relief effort

Members of the Masjid Al-Madina Mosque  worked alongside members of Central Christian Church and others from the community to pack meals for Ukrainian refugees on Sunday.

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Members of the Masjid Al-Madina Mosque worked alongside members of Central Christian Church and others from the community to pack meals for Ukrainian refugees on Sunday.

A month ago, members of Central Christian Church and Masjid Al-Madina Mosque prepared aid packages together to be distributed for needy locals using the Springfield Soup Kitchen. On Sunday, the reach to help others went international.

An estimated 160 people, from toddlers to senior citizens including congregation members, mosque members and people from other churches and the community, spent part of their Sunday morning packing more than 20,000 meals in Central Christian’s gym to be sent to Ukrainian refugees.

Church members have contributed financially to the relief project for several weeks in partnership with the organization Kids Around the World, which specializes in sending meals to those in need.

“This is an act of love,” said Chase Perkins, mission advancement specialist for Kids Around the World. “You see families coming together and people serving and having fun.”

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Upbeat music set the tempo and saw Central Christian member Karen Sparks dancing while packing along to Dolly Parton’s classic song “9 to 5.″ Nearby, Kendra Jordan packed with one hand and held her 2.5-year-old daughter in her other arm, not making it look like work.

“It’s what us moms do,” Jordan said, smiling. “It makes me feel good I’m doing something for somebody else.”

Around 20 members of the mosque were eager to travel across town to Central Christian after working together in April. They collaborate twice a year for the Soup Kitchen and this was a chance to do good beyond the area.

“It is very essential to do for others. We always want to help with humanitarian efforts,” said Imam Yunus Lasania.

While he wasn’t preaching in the sanctuary this week, Central Christian Pastor Carl Ruby was maybe even more active than on a typical Sunday as he darted throughout the gym, carrying finished boxes of food, hitting gongs to signal accomplishments and helping wherever needed.

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He said the numbers of volunteers that filled the gym exceeded his expectations and was gratified to see new faces.

“People see a need and want to help,” Ruby said. “We identify with others in need.”

Ruby said for as long as the ongoing war that affects Ukraine goes on, Central Christian will try to help.

Perkins said Kids Around the World helped nearly nine million in 2021 before the Ukrainian crisis. When things like this happen, others want to serve and projects like this help.

“This is an example of a community being Christ-like,” he said.

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