A year ago, Perfect Provisions ministry was providing bag lunches for 75-150 homeless children at Charlotte’s Thomasboro Academy.
Barbara Wilder would travel from her home in Monroe to deliver the meals once a week — all year since it’s a year-round school. She prepared the meals in the kitchen of her home.
Wilder started Perfect Provisions in 2011. The ministry collects and distributes clothing, socks and shoes, blankets, sleeping bags, pillows and personal hygiene products as needed. She and other ministry volunteers are still making and delivering the brown bag lunches, but the ministry has grown.
Once a month, about 10 volunteers help Barbara and her husband, Garry, provide meals for people in Ravenwood Hills community. The neighborhood is in west Charlotte, near Freedom Drive, not far from Thomasboro Academy.
Some adults get the meals, but mostly children, on average around 70, Wilder said.
“The children show up on their own,” Wilder said. “They are so grateful.”
In September, one little boy mentioned to a volunteer that they didn’t celebrate Halloween because nobody in the neighborhood gave out candy where he lives. So, in October, the children were able to get Halloween candy and trick-or-treat with volunteers.
In November, Perfect Provisions provided a Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of the usual 10 volunteers, 40 showed up.
“I didn’t even have enough aprons,” Wilder said.
As needs grow, so does Perfect Provisions. They got a food truck in March to help deliver meals. Financial help for this nonprofit ministry comes from individuals and small businesses, Wilder said.
“The love of God motivates me,” Wilder said. “I’ve always had a heart to help the homeless and those in need.”
When she and Garry Wilder got married last year, they stayed at a hotel in uptown Charlotte. While walking around the city, they were surprised to see so many homeless people. They decided they would try to help them.
The Wilders started feeding the homeless in uptown Charlotte twice a month in a parking lot, but quickly outgrew the space. Now, they feed them in the Mecklenburg County Services parking lot at 700 N. Tryon St. Wilder said they recently fed their largest number ever, 158 men and women, a hot, home-cooked meal.
Ninety Ravenwood Hills children and adults also got a Christmas dinner.
“They got stockings, presents, toys and a hot meal of honey-glazed ham, mac & cheese, meatballs and gravy, glazed carrots, angel eggs (commonly referred to as devilled eggs), rolls and juice,” Wilder said.
She also said Pure Barre of Huntersville and Clean Juice Bar of Mooresville, are businesses that collected toys for Perfect Provisions. Wilder said 180 toys have been given out.
“Seeing the faces of the children, to see their smiles when they get clothes, a toothbrush or a hot meal or a toy, just to bless them is a wonderful feeling,” Wilder said. “Nothing fulfills you more.”
Molly Gregory has been volunteering with Perfect Provisions for about a year. She travels from her home in Huntersville to help. She spoke of the people they minister to through these meals.
“They are very, very gracious,” Gregory said. “They are so happy and they don’t have the latest iPhone or a new Suburban. And they have so much faith.”
As 2016 approaches, Wilder said the ministry plans to continue. The next dates they will feed the homeless in uptown Charlotte at the Tryon St. address are Jan. 23 and Jan. 30. They plan to feed the children and adults at Ravenwood Hills Apartments on Jan. 27.
Wilder said the ministry needs more cooking space.
“To get a warehouse and a commercial kitchen,” she said. “I need a commercial kitchen so bad.”