Finland invites community to drive-thru

by Rose Longacre, Finland

coffee drive thruIt was a cold morning this week when four members of our church, Finland Mennonite, gathered to set up a table making a free “drive-thru” coffee stand.  As usual, we looked forward to seeing our “regulars” and we prayed for new cars to stop by.  Our normal conversations about sugar or creamer were replaced this particular Wednesday by something much deeper as a woman from the community pulled in, not for coffee or donuts, but asking if we could pray with her.  She had been to our drive-thru in months past but today she was in search of something more.  We prayed for her and cried with her and marveled at how Jesus is able to work through us to bring comfort to others, even through donuts and coffee.

About 3 years ago, when the economy was tough, some of our members at Finland began pondering how our church could reach out to the community and let them know we cared.  On Fachtsnachts Day, while I was on the phone with a friend, she drove by a church where they were handing out doughnuts at the red light. That event sparked a new idea: we could give out free cups of coffee!!!

In April 2010 we began our once-a-month drive thru coffee ministry.  On the Sunday before, we put out a sign saying that there will be a free coffee drive thru from 6:30-8:00 am on the following Wednesday.  Each month since that April, year round, on the third Wednesday of every month, we are outside with free coffee and donuts for all who drive thru during that time.

We have a list of our “regulars” who we know by name and how they take their coffee.  One regular stops by just for a donut, while some bring their own cups to be filled. We have a team of four regular helpers to fill cups, add the cream/sugar, load up the bags and add the donut. Juice boxes are given to families with children.

Helpers are busy behind the scenes as well. The Boys & Girls Club have begun to decorate the bags, which often say, “Have a good day!” or “Smile, God loves you!” Some months we allow our guests to choose from homemade baked items made by congregational members.

In addition, businesses from the community have joined us in our outreach effort. A neighbor who made donuts for Yum Yum’s in Colmar for 40 years began donating two dozen donuts each month—he would come off of his night shift and deliver them to us for our event.  After he became ill and passed away, Yum Yums honored his commitment to serving by continuing to donate 2 dozen donuts each month. One Village Coffee found out about our ministry and has also given us free coffee from time to time.

We average right around 20 individuals each month and almost always have a new one who has seen the sign but never stopped before. We look forward to seeing our regulars each month and catching up on their lives, their grandchildren, their vacations.

It has been a fun way to see who drives by our church and an opportunity to share the love of Christ with our community, invite people to events at our church, and help our neighbors to begin their day with a smile and a warm cup of free coffee.