By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
FORT MADISON — In Via Youth Ministry collaborated with the Fort Madison Food Pantry last month to make a float for the annual Grand Rodeo Parade. The float, themed “Pantry Strong,” served to thank the surrounding community for 37 years of support. It received third place in the themed float category.
In Via Youth Ministry includes members from St. Mary of the Assumption Parish-West Point, St. James the Less Parish-St. Paul, St. John the Baptist Parish-Houghton, and St. Boniface Parish-Farmington.
The youth group began collaborating with the food pantry earlier this year, assisting with yard work and landscaping. Nathan Clark, family and youth minister for the four parishes, remained in contact with Catholic Food Pantry board members, eager to help with future projects. “I love their ministry and what they do,” he said.
Shirley Gable, a food pantry board member and Holy Family Parish-Fort Madison parishioner, shared with Clark the pantry’s desire to have a parade entry for the first time. They just needed a little assistance in bringing their vision to life, especially finding people who could walk the entire route, Clark said. Twenty-two youths assisted the food pantry with the design and creation of the float and handed out candy on foot during the parade. Several local Catholic adults provided assistance, donating fruit and vegetable-shaped balloons, barrels, a trailer and a truck.
Support for the food pantry’s float was audible during the parade. “It was very cool to hear the community support for the food pantry as we walked,” Clark said. “They’d see it was the pantry and start cheering and clapping. It happened multiple times throughout the route.”
Clark said the youth group and the food pantry intend to collaborate in the future. “We’re putting our heads together for the future to see what we can do for the community.”