GRANITE CITY — July 1 marked Pastor Lisa Guilliams’ 13-year anniversary at Trinity United Methodist Church and is also the date when the TWIGS and FIGS program first took root.
One of the basic precepts of the Methodist way of living is to perform kind acts as much as possible. Guilliams’ first summer was the start of the program, and in the years since it has grown into a full-fledged “giving tree.” A combination of the pastor’s direction and business savvy (helped along by her years in the corporate world), coupled with the volunteer efforts crossing church and political affiliations, has helped to ensure its success.
“The program tries to reach out to two groups on the tree of life,” Guilliams said. “FIGS are the senior citizens and TWIGS are the children in the community.”
The primary effort of TWIGS is to provide lunch to the children who are at risk of not having any during the summer months. The program was set up to help children who qualify for the nationally funded free and reduced lunch program during the school year. The local school district has helped the organization determine the best locations to set up distribution centers in neighborhoods where at-risk children reside. They wanted the children who needed the assistance to have the ability to walk to get a lunch.
Volunteers go to 13 locations in the Granite City area to distribute lunches. The distribution centers vary from fire stations to empty lots owned by the city. 850 to 1,000 lunches are distributed daily to children through high school age.
“Location is everything,” Guilliams said.
The lunches include Lunchables, snacks, a drink and fruit when available and is funded through grants and donations. TWIGS and FIGS partners with the St. Louis Area Food Bank, Kraft, and Eckridge. During the school year, the work of TWIGS continues as it provides a backpack’s worth of nutritious items for the weekend every Friday.
The FIGS Program for Senior Citizens is another important help in the community. Seniors from all over the area come to the food bank on the appointed day and receive groceries when ends just do not meet. The seniors appreciate the groceries to help them stretch their monthly pensions so they are able to buy medicine or pay bills.
The Little Lunch Program started by Trinity United Methodist Church has blossomed into 14 other metro communities. Guilliams and her volunteers oversee the program in all of the communities.
According to Guilliams, the growth has been overwhelming and could not work without the help of the community.
“From the mayor’s office down to the citizens of the community, the TWIG and FIG Programs have been warmly embraced by all,” she said.
For more information, call (618) 876-0723.