BY MELANIE BUCK –
Kyle and Debbie Todd who operate the Acts of Love Food Pantry at Mena Assembly of God Church. Debbie and Kyle recently received the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance 2015 Acting Out Against Hunger Award in Little Rock. Ted Clemons, left, presented the award.
When featured as Pulse Citizens of the Week in 2013, the Todds explained how and why they began Acts of Love. “We just always felt the desire to help, the compassion to help other people, and it eventually manifested itself in ‘Acts of Love’, although we really didn’t know where it was going at the time,” Debbie explained. “In 2004, my sister, Gwen, and I, started a food distribution program in a small 12-foot by 12-foot room at the Assembly of God Church. We would do purchasing through warehouses with church-funded money and distribute the food each week. This was going well, but when the April 2009 tornado hit, our program exploded and we became one of the central distribution locations for food supplies in the area.”
Kyle said that they also worked with other churches and organizations then, and it gave them the foundation and brought them to the attention of the community. “Samaritans Purse with Billy Graham came into town then and set up a distribution/home repair station, providing ministry and emotional support as well, and working with that organization inspired us even further,” he said.
Debbie added, “It was then we realized we were being called into this form of ministry – helping people recover from catastrophic situations through food assistance, emotional support, and counseling. And this moved us to pursue becoming emergency chaplains – not serving as a pastor in a single location but as a chaplain for the community, and Acts of Love was truly born.”
“Kyle said, “We do this for the love of Christ. People don’t care how much you know until you show them how much you care.”
“This is our passion,” Debbie added, “It’s the compassion in us that drives us. But we both have to say that none of this would be possible without all the wonderful volunteers who help us daily, and the support of the community. All of these people share in our goal and our vision, and the love of Christ.”