Together We Celebrate: Delivering Meals, Joy, and Hope on Thanksgiving

Irving Bible Church is an inspiring case study in leveraging digital tools to organize community projects that make a difference

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to show gratitude for all the gifts we enjoy in life. This idea is especially poignant for Christians, since the holiday serves as an opportunity to express thankfulness through generosity, and in doing so celebrate the values of the Church.

Irving Bible Church (IBC) in Texas is an inspiring example of what can be accomplished with a little ingenuity, thorough planning, and a whole lot of heart. For more than twenty years, their Thanksgiving basket program has been nothing short of a game changer in their community.

“We ask our church to provide literally a laundry basket full of food for families in our community,” says Jeremiah Betron, Operations Pastor. “It’s an entire Thanksgiving dinner, so they’ll get all of the sides… they’ll get a turkey, they’ll get a gift card, and they’ll have non-perishable items within that basket so a family can have a full Thanksgiving meal and it’s provided for by the church.”

The impact of this program has been extraordinary. According to IBC’s Mission and Mobilization Pastor Charlyn Valencia, it can be difficult “to see people feeling helpless because they’re thinking, ‘Man, Thanksgiving is coming up, and I have no way to feed my family.’” But Charlyn explains that, through these Thanksgiving baskets, “being able to see people’s eyes go from hopeless to hopeful is one of the things that I love seeing and love being a part of.”

As the program evolved and grew, Local Missions and Mobilization Director Kyla Mikusek realized that the baskets are more than a meal to these families. “We’re giving them a break. They are able to do something as a family and celebrate like a family who’s not struggling the way they are.”

And of course, the benefits of generosity go both ways. “We’re also giving our IBCers a chance to love on our community,” says Kyla. “So maybe we just give them a smile as they go through that line, or we tell them that God loves them. So it’s more than just a tangible need that we’re meeting.”

This program is no small undertaking: IBC distributed more than six hundred baskets in 2021, and this year, due to ongoing COVID needs and the state of the economy, they believe they’ll provide over one thousand baskets this Thanksgiving. Such a massive act of charity requires significant gracious contributions from the community.

“We are able to leverage [our] partnership with Pushpay because of the ease of giving,” says Jeremiah. “People can go purchase the basket on their own, or they can make a donation and we’ll purchase the baskets and the food for them to make it a little bit easier.”

But giving is only one piece of the puzzle. A substantial amount of organization and administrative work is necessary to execute such a huge campaign. Thankfully, Charlyn has found ways to leverage technology to keep their processes efficient and straightforward.

“My favorite Pushpay feature has to be the ability to create forms,” says Charlyn, “and the reason for that is because we get a lot of information from people who are interested in serving all the needs in our community and in our world. Creating forms for both allows us to organize the information so that we can sift through and see how we can most effectively and efficiently care for the needs in our community, while also empowering and encouraging people to use their passions for service.

“From the donation stage,” Charlyn continues, “to the sign up stage, to the actual ability to be able to communicate with every person that’s signed up. ‘Hey, these are the things that you’re going to be doing,’ and then the follow up of, ‘Hey, this is the impact that we’ve made’… Pushpay really has helped us be more effective in the way that we do ministry.”

The heart IBC shares with their community each Thanksgiving springs from their dedicated congregation and leadership, and is supported by innovative tech solutions designed specifically for the Church. To discover more ministry success stories like IBC’s, check out Pushpay’s ‘Together We’ campaign, which highlights how we can make a difference in our communities — together.


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