PISCATAWAY, NJ — Over 200 families around the Piscataway area are thankful this Thanksgiving season as members of Abundant Life Worship Center donated gift cards to area grocery stores so they could shop for what they need for their holiday dinners.

“Every year we have been blessing families within our community: people outside the church, people in the school system, people who are in need especially during the holidays,” said Pastor Joseph Leo after Sunday’s outdoor service at the church’s future new home on Stelton Road.

“Last Thanksgiving, we blessed about 140 families. So, this year our goal was to reach at least 200 families,” said Leo.

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While he did not reveal the exact number of families the church helped this week, Leo said they went well over their goal, raising enough money to provide $100 grocery store gift cards so well over 200 families could shop for what they need for their Thanksgiving dinners.

“We have been blessed so we can bless others in return. We hope that next year we’ll be able to do a little bit more,” said the pastor.

Even with families struggling to put food on the table this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related job losses, Leo said ALWC received more contributions from church members and the community than ever before.

“As the ministry grew, we pushed the envelope a little further,” he said about ALWC’s Missions and Outreach Ministry that began 15 years ago when the church was established. “The Lord placed in our heart that we need to bless more people during the holidays.”

“God has been using this church, this ministry so that we can reach out, not only during Thanksgiving, but during Christmas,” continued Leo.

“We have a toy fund drive called ‘The Angels’,” he said. “We have people who come out of nowhere and tell us their needs. So, what we do is put that need out to the rest of the church and people come out with their donations and offerings, and go out and buy that gift or what the child needs for Christmas.”

The families are then able to go to the church to pick up that gift to give to their own children.

“I’m sure the pandemic made issues a little worse than normal,” said Leo about ALWC’s Thanksgiving community outreach. “But we’ve been able to keep up with the needs and demands of God’s people. Thank God we have been blessed so we can help others.”

“And we’re going to continue to help our people within the community, within the school system, and whichever way we possibly could because we’re going to be here for the duration,” he continued. “We’re not planning on going anywhere. We’re a staple here in the community.”

Abundant Life Worship Center is located at 482 Stelton Road in Piscataway. For service times and other information, visit www.alwcpiscataway.org.

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