The main sanctuary of Cornerstone Church of God was buzzing with activity Saturday morning, Feb. 4. More than two dozens volunteers, with CCG members joining others from as far away as Maryville, made up roughly 500 food boxes [each about 2 feet long and 15 inches wide] for about 250 widows in need from poverty stricken areas around Knox County.
“This is about $30,000 worth of food here,” Robin Rolland, a CCG volunteer who helps lead the relief efforts of this church of “75 to 80” active members.
Second Annual CCG Valentines Banquet, in association with Widows & Children International and Parkwest Church, will be held in Rothchild Catering & Conference Center from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 11. That’s where the widows will pick up their Cornerstone boxes.
Rolland said Widows & Children International “really focuses on Valentine’s Day because they say that’s a time when [widows] feel left out and forgotten about.”
With widows in need, “We are preparing  food boxes just to make them feel special,” Rolland said about the church’s annual effort. “Widows don’t always get what they need. They are on fixed income.”
Cornerstone’s monthly relief effort, sending food to poverty stricken areas in East Tennessee, is roughly 6 years old, she said.
“About 10 to 12 times a year we take in abound $40,000 worth of food … $200 to $250 per family,” Rolland said, adding that in one year, “We probably feed close to 20,000 people. … We go into these area mountains and we set up remote distributions.”
In addition to WCI, “We work with Second Harvest [Food Bank] and they send their truck in. We also work with Campbell Soups. ... and United Healthcare,” Rolland said.
“When we go to these distribution [centers], we see a lot of widows and we see a lot of single moms,” Rolland said. “And we see grandparents raising their grandchildren.”
Its widows relief effort, which also includes single mothers and divorcees struggling without support, began with distributing “beauty” items such as “make-up and mascara,” something Rolland said CCG has been doing the past six years.
When deciding to add food to the widows’ relief effort, “They were so excited about the food and desperately needed the food,” Rolland said.
“A full truckload” of Second Harvest food costs CCG “about $1,300” per month, Rolland said. “But that doesn’t count Campbell Soups. We brought them in.”
Giving out food boxes to the widows in Rothchild parking lot last year just prior to Valentine’s Day, “It was 1 degree outside. Ben [Rolland, Robin’s husband] and myself and [the Rev. Bishop Steve McCullar, CCG pastor] were giving it out. We were so cold we didn’t even know we were cold,” Robin Rolland said.