LAKELAND – Sometimes a little goes a long way, and the Florida United Methodist Foundation's Lockmiller grant program strives to make that happen by providing small cash awards for church projects aimed at helping children and families, with an emphasis on stamping out hunger.
Last year, nearly two dozen grants ranging from $500 to $2,000 were awarded to local churches interested in feeding hungry children, promoting good parenting skills and providing educational opportunities.
"These churches are doing amazing work and reaching out to children in their community," said Rev. Tammy Fisher, who coordinates the grant application process for the foundation.
"That's what Lockmiller is about."
As in previous years, a total of $25,000 will be awarded. Applications must be in by March 15 so that awards can be announced in mid-April and money distributed before summer feeding programs start up. For guidelines, click here.
|Alice W. Lockmiller|
The Coalition for Advocacy and Ministries with Children, known as the Children's Coalition, reviews the applications, looking for an emphasis on at least one of the following: hunger reduction, educational enrichment, parenting skills education and physical recreation.
Anne Winn of Christ UMC, Leesburg, who chairs the coalition, said applications that include more than one of those ministry goals – such as transporting neighborhood children to a church for a meal and an enrichment program – generally get high marks from application readers.
Lockmiller grants are not intended to provide seed money for startup ministries, Winn and Fisher said. They provide supplemental funding that must be blended with other resources to sustain an ongoing ministry.
Fisher said the conference also likes to encourage smaller churches to participate in those types of ministries. In the past, small congregations have banded with neighboring churches or nonprofit organizations to conduct a fruitful ministry that does not strain a small group's financial resources or volunteer pool.
Grant applications that describe such an effort are welcome, Fisher said.
"The little churches are doing a phenomenal outreach to their communities," she said.
"They're pulling together, and their communities are in such need. … The Lockmiller [grant] really helps them, especially in the rural areas."
The grant program is funded by a trust that draws on the legacy of the late Alice W. Lockmiller, a successful businesswoman and lifelong Methodist who died in 2007.
Rev. Sarah Campbell, associate pastor at Harvest UMC, Lakewood Ranch, said a $1,000 Lockmiller grant last year helped her congregation boost the effectiveness of its weekend Pack-a-Sack meal program.
"It helped us prepare a box of food to send home for the entire family," Campbell said, adding that volunteers included recipes and suggestions to help parents make food preparation a time for family bonding.
"We wanted it to be more relational, too, and bring the entire family into it," the pastor said.
Harvest has partnered with nearby Samoset Elementary School in Bradenton, establishing a food pantry there and working with educators to identify children in need and ways to address those needs, Campbell said. The congregation designated its Christmas Eve offering to benefit its ministry at the school, and ended up raising more than $40,000 that can help fill needs for books, school supplies and other shortages identified by teachers.
"This [Lockmiller] grant has allowed us to be able to keep adding things and form a relationship with students and teachers," Campbell said. She said two church members without a background in grant writing put together the church's request for Lockmiller funding.
"It's not a difficult application," she said.
"We've gotten letters from the children at the school saying, 'Thank you for the food,'" Campbell added. "We know it's making a difference in these kids' lives."
* Susan Green is the editor of Florida Conference Connection.