By Marianne Mueller
REPORTER
Hours of gospel music sent messages of hope at this year’s Harmony for Hunger con. The Hononegah High School’s Performing Arts Center stage came alive on Friday evening, April 21.
John Tallacksen of 88.3 WFEN-Gospel Country returned as the events emcee. He gave special recognition to Steve Nader, President of the United Methodist Men and the overall organization.
“We are here tonight to honor and help six different food pantries,” said Tallacksen. “In over eight years this concert has raised over $93,000. Tonight we hope to go over a six figure number.”
Harmonies blended perfectly in “Mighty to save.” An acapella version of “Because he loved me delighted the crowd.” The Cross of Grace, Low down the Chariot, The Gospel” and “I Believe “completed part of the first set.
“One month ago I had a heart attack, “said John Vanderheyden of the Alleluia Quartet. “When you go through something like that you wonder, where is God? Did he forget about me?” That is so easy to believe in that moment. It is so obvious to me that God was with me; all things considered. I had three stints put in and blood was flowing to a heart that was 100 percent blocked.”
Vanderheyden credited nurses, Doctors and staff for his excellent care. “I came out looking at things totally differently. I learned never to take it for granted when the sun comes up in the morning, or for my wife and family. Jesus died on the cross; don’t ever take that for granted.”
Touching hearts Stacy Vanderheyden gifted everyone with precision sign language on the songs, “He’s My Song” and “I won’t trade my crown.”
Triumphant Quartet opened with “Fill us with the Power.” Amazing God and Saved by Grace held equal meaning. Scotty Inman stirred emotions in “Somebody died for me” which was also performed in an acapella version. A powerful story accompanied by the song, “He’s a chain Breaker.” Hands raised in the air when “Broken Alleluia” was sung. “We Welcome Your Holy Spirit, and “The Soldier Song “rounded out the first set.
Alleluia Quartet’s Jarrod Severing performed a ballad during an offering for Hunger Relief.
Triumphant Quartet returned to the stage with a high energy version of Long Black Train with a solo by Eric Bennett. Scotty Inman took the microphone singing tunes of “I Know Him and Love Came Calling. Bennett went down into the audience while singing “The Old Rugged Cross.
Loads of clapping, snapping fingers and singing along with various songs provided a form of pure audience participation.
David Sutton captured attention on the Harmonica. Aaron Dishman also wowed the crowd by playing piano and singing, “Somebody’s Praying.”
Adding Blue Grass flair Clayton Inman brought the house down once again by waving the “White Flag of surrender” Audiences got into the act by waving white handkerchiefs in the air.
The concert concluded with the Alleluia Quartet, Triumphant Quartet and John Tallacksen who performed, “Promised Land.”
Each of the six food pantries has seen an increased need in the past year.
Rockton’s Old Stone Church food pantry has been in operation since 1994. They have served the Stateline area over 23 years. Visitors leave with a nice food selection, a gallon of milk, and optional medical and health advice, in addition to Christmas and Thanksgiving baskets.
Children of families who have difficulty buying groceries on the weekends are serviced in a unique manner. Through a backpack program children from Rockton Grade School and Stephen Mack receive backpacks full of basic foods to take home with them. The program has been ongoing since 2011. Currently the pantry services up to an average of 75-80 families per week. They have been in existence for over 23 years.
The Belvidere, Boone County food opened in 2005 to provide food, clothing, and other essential care items. The clothing program allows families to obtain appropriate clothing they may need as they make monthly visits.
Currently they serve over 2,000 people per month, each receiving $400 worth of food. The Belvidere, Boone County food pantry also recycles cardboard, metals and clothing.
Cornucopia Food Pantry Sitting in the heart of Rockford sees an average of 1,800 households per month. The pantry expands well beyond providing food. A food bank, the pantry, and a soup kitchen are housed in the pantry. Through pantry resources information is made available on homeless shelters and leads on health services such as free dental clinics, and free treatment centers. Cornucopia is in partnership with two churches.
Meals for Millions – Society of St. Andrew were formed in 1989. The purpose of the mission is to take a stand against hunger. Ministries of the Society of St. Andrew deliver food at a cost of about a penny per serving. Meals for Millions is original in the fact that food is home grown in farmers’ fields, salvaged and is distributed to food banks, food kitchens, and to other agencies. These efforts have resulted in over 197 million servings of food a year have helped to feed hungry people in the nation.
The Rock River Valley Pantry stays true to a mission of assuring food for those in urgent need. They have been in operation over 40 years. Currently they are providing groceries to 2,750 households per month. Clients per month. Homeless, elderly, families, working poor, people with disabilities and children receive much needed help. Since its inception More than 1,200 LBS of food have been distributed.
The Pecatonica Food Pantry is found in the Pecatonica Methodist Church. After they started in the late 80’s they gave away seven bags of groceries and nine food boxes. In past holiday seasons an excess of 130 large laundry baskets of food went to people in the community. Last year the pantry served around 80 families. This year they are serving 261 people.