Icicles hang from car bumpers and forgotten snowmen line the streets of Fredericksburg, Virginia. It’s 20 degrees with a wind chill, and schools have closed for the week. Most people are huddled in their homes and offices, sipping hot cocoa and snuggling under electric blankets.
But not the volunteers from LUCHA Ministries. These women and men led by LUCHA’s only paid employee, Aida Kent are bundled up in scarves and gloves, sorting through boxes of donated produce at the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank.
“Dress warmly, today girls,” Aida tells us before we leave. “We’re going into the freezer!”
One of LUCHA’s key ministries is working with the Food Bank to provide provisions for Latino families who have fallen on hard times.
Take Cenon, for example.
Cenon worked the night shift at Wendy’s, walking or riding his bike home around two or three in the morning. One day, as he was crossing the bridge some miles from his house, he was hit by a car and left bleeding in the street. He yelled for help, but no one came near him. . “I screamed and screamed, “ he said. “Finally I heard the ambulance.”
At last an unknown bystander called 911, and Cenon was taken to the hospital.
His leg had to be amputated at the knee, leaving him unable to work. The hit-and-run driver was caught by security cameras but didn’t have insurance to cover Cenon’s medical expenses. Despite the hardship, Cenon still has a bright smile as he learns how to live with one leg. Families like Cenon’s require supplementary assistance during their recovery process.
Every Monday, LUCHA’s volunteers give their time at the Food Bank; often working through lunch to make sure the six to seven families LUCHA serves have enough to eat. Every volunteer is from the Latino community and what is leftover is divided among them to take to their families.
Supervisor Aida Kent knows what she’s doing. A native of Puerto Rico, she’s fluent in English and Spanish and also works as a translator at the hospital. She makes sure each volunteer and family is cared for and often makes personal visits to check on her clients. Kent has around 60 rotating volunteers from the surrounding Hispanic community who are willing to lend a helping hand to families in crisis.
Despite the freezing temperatures and icy roads, the volunteers of LUCHA are adding a little warmth to the week.