MT. COMFORT — The bread buns dot the edges of the round tables — thin bottom buns near the table edge, thicker top buns farther in.
To each bottom bun, a volunteer will add a slice of cheese, three pieces of shaved ham, a slice of salami and a slice of provolone. Then the top bun goes on, and the whole thing is placed in a clear plastic bag. That will go to another table, where chips, a snack and a napkin are grouped with the sandwich in a grocery-style bag.
After four years of leading this group at Vineyard Community Church at Mt. Comfort, Lisa Schwier has the sandwich assembly line down to a science.
“I run a tight ship around here, so I’m just letting you know,” she said, winking at a mom and two sons there to help for the first time.
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Anna Messer is the mom; she knows Schwier through work, and she’s brought sons Austin and Adam to help make sack lunches that will be distributed to homeless people in Indianapolis the next day.
“It’s good for them to learn to do this kind of stuff,” Messer said.
Schwier, who according to Messer is “nonstop helping people,” coordinates a group that meets one Tuesday a month at the church to make sack lunches. The lunches are distributed by the PourHouse, a ministry that, according to its website, “assists individuals experiencing homelessness in overcoming barriers to housing, treatment and healthcare.”
Schwier, a florist, will keep the lunches in a large cooler overnight before delivering them the next day to Andrea De Mink, the PourHouse’s founder and executive director.
The PourHouse relies on churches and other groups to provide and package the lunches it distributes over the course of a month. Occasional one-time volunteer groups will also help out; the Vineyard group usually makes lunches 11 times a year, catching an occasional break from one of these fill-in groups.
Vineyard’s involvement began as a youth project but became difficult for the group to sustain over time.
“They were gonna give it up, and I said, ‘Oh, I’ll do it,’” Schwier said. “You get hooked, and you just can’t quit.” She laughs.
With her each month is a group of regulars. Lynn Morgan met Vineyard member Sandy Wright through a home-school group and began bringing her children.
“We said as a family this was a great way to come and serve together,” Lynn Morgan said.
Near her, twins Daniel and Randy, 14, and daughter Vickie, 12, lay slices of lunch meat and cheese on a table’s worth of sandwiches in the making.
Daniel Morgan said what he likes about the work is “all of it. It’s a good experience of serving God and others.”
“And making really awesome sandwiches,” chimes in Vickie Morgan.
Wright brings her son, Nat. While she added a bag of chips and a packaged oatmeal cream sandwich cookie to the lunch sacks, she said even young children have helped over the years.
“I have always felt like it was important to volunteer,” she said. “(The kids) understand. It gives them a sense of worth. And when we’re done, 250 people will have a meal.”
And like the Morgans, after making that many sandwiches for others, the Wrights go home and make some for themselves.
“We’ll go home and have a sandwich tonight,” Wright said. “It helps us remember what we’re doing.”
A group gathers on the evening of the third Tuesday of the month to make sandwich sack lunches for homeless people. To learn more about participating, see vccmtcomfort.org or call 317-894-3280.
To learn more about the PourHouse ministry that distributes the lunches, see pourhouse.org.