The east side of Hwy 5 in McKinney was the place to avoid. Violent crime was the expectation. A poverty ridden area was the reality.
Carol Wood had heard the rumors, the warnings to avoid that side of town. Also known as “the other side of the tracks,” it was the minority side of town and and its problems were largely ignored by city officials.
But she saw it as a community in need and opened Citychurch in 2008 to address it. She started a youth orientation program. Though it was small at first, but it has grown to nearly 90 children attending youth services, which Wood says equals to about three bus trips around the Eastside community to pick up children.
When the coronavirus pandemic erupted in March, Citychurch started the COVID Response Feeding program because they heard schools may not be reopening after spring break. They knew it meant many children in the community would be going hungry since they rely on schools lunch programs for at least one guaranteed meal a day. They started delivering 80 box lunches of hot, ready-made food each day. Now they’re preparing 163 and the program grows daily as unemployment continues to rise. They also deliver family bags on Fridays, packing them with just enough food to hold them over until Monday lunches resume.
Citychurch recently announced that it plans to continue feeding children through the summer since summer school ends in late June, leaving about a month or two before public school is expected to resume (given the uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak).
“This will allow the parents and families who have been hit so hard by COVID a little relief with food cost,” Wood says. “We know that food scarcity is a real issue and we don’t want any child to go hungry.”
Unlike other nonprofits, Citychurch doesn’t receive government funding or tithing. Instead, it relies on “God to provide,” as pointed out on its website.
The man upstairs seems to have been listening. Businesses, churches, and individual donors have helped keep the church’s door open. Wood points out that 100 percent of donations go back to the community.
“One of the most unique features of what we are doing is that we are delivering the food directly to the children every day,” Wood says. “This assures us that the kids are getting it, and it allows us to check in on the kids, which is crucial since child abuse cases are on the rise. We are not only bringing food we bring hope. When kids see us come they are so excited.”
To donate, visit citychurchmckinney.com/donate. They also accept in-kind donations of individual bags of chips, cookies, snacks and gas cards to fill the vans.