HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — For decades, the Hendersonville First United Methodist Church and the Sumner County School District have partnered on service project. But this year, a special and urgent plea came from the Board of Education volunteer coordinator.

An unprecedented 237 homeless and food insecure children are reported in the community.

“This was really kind of a desperation call,” said Women in Faith member Shirley Cooper. “We normally don`t see this many children in need this early in the season.”

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Women in Faith and the Hendersonville First United Methodist Church (HFUMC) used their fundraising to purchase 650 food items, including ready-to-eat pasta, crackers, fruit and juice. They packaged the items into 325 bags, which will be distributed to Sumner County students in need.

“It’s definitely a need that we’ve seen growing in recent years especially with all the changes in the economy,” said HFUMC Associate Pastor Joshua Strader. “We’re glad that God’s revealed that and we have an ability to make an improvement there.”

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“It’s just so difficult to think that there are that many children that are food insecure and we hope that we can continue to be of service and fill that need,” said Cooper. “I hope [the students] feel the love and compassion that we feel for them.”

Cooper said HFUMC isn’t the only organization stepping up to help Sumner County students, as similar efforts are happening across the county.