Parish deploys assembly line to make Easter food baskets for families in need

Fr. Radek Zablocki, associate pastor of St. Mary Queen of Creation Parish in New Baltimore, stands with some of the Easter food baskets parish volunteers prepared for pickup April 6. The New Baltimore parish employed an assembly-line style to make the baskets and distribute them, ensuring volunteers practiced social distancing standards. (Courtesy photos)

Volunteers at St. Mary Queen of Creation serve 91 families, continue annual tradition of helping less fortunate

NEW BALTIMORE — Unable to celebrate the Eucharist, St. Mary Queen of Creation Parish is still making sure families have one special meal to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.

The New Baltimore parish’s food pantry has long been a distributor of food baskets for Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, and while this Easter season is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Easter food basket distribution was not.

Ninety-one families received a basket that contained turkey or ham, apples, oranges, boxes of spaghetti, potatoes, canned fruit, hamburger helper and some sweets — because what Easter basket would be complete without sweets.

Fr. Radek Zablocki, associate pastor at St. Mary Queen of Creation and coordinator of the Christian service program at the parish, told Detroit Catholic the parish had already planned the distribution before the pandemic hit, and people have been eager to help.

Volunteers wear gloves, masks and Easter apparel as they assembly baskets of food in the parish gym.

“We said what we would need, and people still brought this stuff in a special box, all in bags, about the entrances of the parish,” Fr. Zablocki said. “Even though we weren’t having Mass, people still came to drop off food.”

Fr. Zablocki said 126 area families registered to receive an Easter food basket this year. After distributing 91 baskets on April 6, the parish will call the remaining families to arrange delivery. For any baskets that can’t be delivered, the food will go to the parish’s pantry.

A team of volunteers spread out in small teams throughout the parish grounds to collect, organize and distribute food, so that no more than five people were congregated in one workstation.

Cars line up April 6 outside the St. Mary Queen of Creation Parish hall to pick up Easter food baskets. 

“Nobody was allowed in the gym, which was the headquarters for the food store,” Fr. Zablocki said. “In the parking lot, people would stay in their car to check in, and then they would drive to another part of the parking lot where a team of volunteers took the food prepared in bags, already organized by another team, and they would load it in the car.”

The assembly line project went smoothly, Fr. Zablocki said, ensuring the parish could continue its seasonal tradition of providing food for families in need while making sure parish staff and volunteers remained safe.

“This is a pretty important project for us,” Fr. Zablocki said. “We have our pantry open each Monday and Wednesday, and this is our way of taking care of those who are less successful. Our parishioners still feels the need to help, not only with this project, but as a continuation of who we are as a parish, to see Jesus, to spread the good news of salvation through the parish.”