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United Thank Offering Announces COVID-19 Grant Awards

Authored by: Penelope Dawson

The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast to receive UTO Grant to respond to COVID-19

Pensacola, Florida, May 20, 2021 — United Thank Offering announced the grant recipients for the Spring 2021 granting cycle, and we are excited to share that the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast will receive funding for St. Mark’s, Troy, Food Pantry. The focus of the granting process this year was ‘Recovering with Love and Gratitude: An Episcopal Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Local Contexts.’

Bags packed and ready for distribution
Bags packed and ready for distribution

St. Mark’s Food Pantry

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Food Pantry ministry in Troy, Alabama, provides supplemental food to people in need in the community. Alabama has the 3rd highest poverty rate in the United States, with a child food insecurity rate of 33%. In the initial months of the pandemic, when schools, churches and businesses closed, food insecurity increased markedly. Nationally, charitable food distribution increased by 50% in 2020. Locally, St. Mark’s expanded its distribution beyond the church pantry by adding distribution sites at the Boys & Girls’ Club and the Charles Henderson Child Health Center, increasing support for families and individuals.

Shelf stable food and face mask included in each bag
Shelf stable food and face mask included in each bag

“Choosing which grant applications to fund and not fund is always difficult, but during this extraordinary time of suffering in the global Covid-19 pandemic we had to prioritize mere survival over thriving,” shared Sherri Dietrich, UTO Board President. The UTO grant funded by UTO will make it possible for St. Mark’s Food Pantry to purchase two freezers, expanding our capacity to include frozen food available through the area food bank. In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, St. Mark’s Food Pantry distributed more than 13 tons of food. At the current rate of increased distribution, we expect to be able to distribute more than 25 tons of food by the end of 2021.

United Thank Offering Funding

Every penny given to the United Thank Offering is given away the following year to support innovative mission and ministry in the Episcopal Church. The gratitude and generosity of those who contributed through Blue Box donations made it possible for UTO to award more than $400,000 in grants during the second round of grants to address the pandemic. St. Mark’s is grateful to be the recipient of the generosity of those who made the grant possible. UTO Board President Dietrich says, “as always, if we’d had more money to grant, we would have been delighted to fund more of the excellent grant projects submitted, so please continue to be thankful and make your thank offerings to UTO.”

The United Thank Offering (UTO) is a ministry of The Episcopal Church for the mission of the whole church. Through UTO, individuals are invited to embrace and deepen a personal daily spiritual discipline of gratitude. UTO encourages people to notice the good things that happen each day, give thanks to God for those blessings and make an offering for each blessing using a UTO Blue Box. UTO is entrusted to receive the offerings, and to distribute the 100% of what is collected to support innovative mission and ministry throughout The Episcopal Church and Provinces of the Anglican Communion.

For more information on UTO:

The Rev. Canon Heather Melton

Staff Officer, The United Thank Offering



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