A group of people stand together smiling - black man, white man holding a box of Asian chopped kit, a black woman and black manHelping hands: (Right to left) Volunteer Michael Dada, Commissioner Bob O’Malley, community service leader Sonya Pusey, and Pastor Dion Henry at Altamonte Springs Seventh-day Adventist Church food drive. Photo: Carlos Medley

When one offers a cup of water to a thirsty stranger or a bag of groceries to a needy family, there’s no telling who’s watching—or better yet—who might step up to lend a helping hand.

Members and friends of Altamonte Springs Seventh-day Adventist Church found that out recently as they prepared for their weekly food giveaway. The group welcomed Bob O’Malley, who serves on the Altamonte Springs City Commission. Commissioner O’Malley oversees the neighborhood where the church is located. He responds to residents’ concerns and ensures they receive basic city services. It’s his responsibility to understand what’s happening in his district.

Dion Henry, Altamonte Springs Church pastor, invited the newly elected commissioner to observe the church’s food drive. When O’Malley arrived, he was dressed and ready to work, not just observe. The commissioner helped volunteers unload the food truck and moved boxes. “This is a wonderful project, and I want to help,” he said. “It fills a real need in the community. It’s great that the church does this every week, and it’s happening in my district. A lot of families are struggling, and it’s wonderful that the church is helping them out.”

Cars fill the church’s parking lot every Tuesday. Some recipients arrive hours before the distribution starts. As cars line up, volunteers lay out fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, cheese, eggs, canned goods, bread and pastries, pet food, and water.

Grateful Hearts

Recipients are grateful for the assortment of fruit and vegetables. Lisa Martin, a local resident who has come to the food drive for two years, said, “With the healthy food they’re giving away, I don’t have to go to the grocery store. I used to go just to get cat food because I fed them before I fed myself. Now I don’t have to do that because they even have cat food. The food they offer is really healthy. I share the food with my neighbors and my parents.”

Black man loads groceries into a carLoading up: Pastor Henry takes an active role in the Altamonte Springs Church’s weekly food giveaway. Photo: Carlos Medley

Apart from the food, recipients are also touched by the kindness of the volunteers. “These are the kindest people I’ve ever met anywhere,” Martin said. “When I come to the church on Tuesdays, I see them working so hard, but they don’t care. They just want to serve the Lord by serving people. I’ve never seen a church do this. This is special.”

People come to the food drive for different reasons. Oleg and Lyudmila Karpik fled war-torn Ukraine and had just arrived in Altamonte Springs when they came to the food drive. The Karpiks lived in the city of Lutsk in northwestern Ukraine, less than 100 miles from the Polish border. “We are very grateful for what the church is doing,” Oleg said. “We’ve only been in Altamonte Springs for one week. We haven’t received all our work permits, so our money is limited.”

As the Karpiks offer thankful prayers for their resettlement and free food, they also pray for friends and loved ones who struggle to survive amid the bloodshed of Ukraine’s year-long war.

Liz Butler, who has two children, said the food drive is helping her get out of debt. “This saves me $200 a month. I don’t qualify for any other assistance. Food is expensive. With this food, we can have a healthier diet.


Community service has long been a hallmark of Altamonte Springs Church (ASC). For several years, the church operated a soup kitchen. “Volunteers gave a devotional message, then served a hot meal and gave away bags of groceries,” said Sonya Pusey, the church’s community services director. “Volunteers would give away about 50 bags of food each week. Unfortunately, the program stopped in March 2020 because of COVID, and there was no activity for 12 months.”

Ladies are standing in front of tables laden with fruits and vegetables at a food drive.Fresh produce: Altamonte’s food drive provides recipients with a wide assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables. Photo: Carlos Medley

In August 2021, the lingering COVID threat prompted the church to forgo its soup kitchen. Working with AdventHealth and a local foodbank, eight dedicated volunteers began loading food into cars. Today, more than 30 volunteers staff the distribution. “We don’t advertise because people are asking to volunteer. Even some of our recipients volunteer,” Pusey said. “They thank God that we’re distributing food every week. That’s a rare thing. People are grateful for the food. They show up and tell their friends and neighbors.”

Statistics show the growing need for the program. In August 2021, volunteers served 7,292 individuals; in 2022, 27,346 people; and through May 2023, 14,455 people. This year, 2,900 people are being served each month, putting ACS on track to serve more than 34,000 people by year’s end.

After witnessing the operation, Commissioner O’Malley expressed his appreciation for the program. “It’s great to see churches and nonprofits with programs like this. In my role as commissioner, I hope to spread the word, look for more volunteers, raise awareness of this program, help identify grant opportunities, and pursue those opportunities,” he said.

Pastor Henry is grateful for the growth of the food drive. “We give God the praise for the impact we’ve had on the community. The progress has been amazing. We’re getting volunteers from church members and non-members. These volunteers are passionate about their service. They serve in a loving, compassionate way.”

Though the food drive has grown significantly, Henry noted more work needs to be done. “In the future, we want to expand into other forms of social services. In addition to providing food, we’re already helping people who want to upgrade their healthcare. We want to help people get housing and further their education. We want to take a person from despair and desperation to the point of deliverance.”

Henry sees community service as a vital part of gospel ministry. “My appeal to other pastors is to find ways to connect with the community. That’s how churches thrive. That’s how they grow and impact society.” Already Henry sees the difference that ACS is making in the community. Others are taking notice. “Local organizations approach us, saying, ‘We see what you’re doing. How can we help?’”

— Carlos Medley, a retired online editor of Adventist Review, lives in Orlando, Florida.

About Us

Shop online at AdventistBookCenter.com

A Better Choice
Books • Deli • Natural Foods

351 S. State Road 434

Altamonte Springs, FL 32714-3824

Phone: (407) 644-4255?•?Fax: (407) 618-0274

View a virtual tour of this store

Store Hours:
Sunday: 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Monday-Wednesday: 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Thursday: 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Friday: 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Saturday: Closed

Deli Hours:
Sunday: Closed
Monday-Wednesday: 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Thursday: 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Friday: 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Saturday: Closed

Camp Kulaqua General Store (ABC Branch)
23400 NW 212 Ave.
High Springs, FL 32643
Phone: (386) 454-7956?•?Fax: (386) 454-7976

Sunday: 10:00 am-3:00 pm
Monday-Wednesday: 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
Thursday: 9:00 am -7:00 pm
Friday: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Saturday: Closed

*open for special events as needed

Express Delivery Schedule
Avoid shipping costs by placing an ABC order to be delivered to a location as scheduled below. Orders must be made by phone or e-mail before 5:30 p.m. on the Thursday before a scheduled Sunday delivery: (407) 644-4255  or FloridaABC@floridaconference.com

This will close in 0 seconds

About Us

The Adventurer Club is a Seventh-day Adventist Church-sponsored ministry open to all families of children in grades 1-4. Our mission is to support parents and caregivers in leading and encouraging their children in a growing, joyful love relationship with Jesus Christ.
The first few years of a child’s life sets the stage for their future.  For parents/families of pre-K through fourth grade children, our Adventurer Clubs provide a safe place to encourage the development of the necessary social and interpersonal skills they need, in an environment that promotes Christian values and responsibilities.
Families will learn a variety of topics together, from character building, nature, hobbies, safety, and much more. This club also has parenting tips and resources through the family network and is designed to help you be the best parent/caregiver you can be as you partner with your child and other families to grow your kids to be the best they can be. Most clubs meet twice a month.

This will close in 0 seconds