BOLO began in the early 1990s as an outreach to the Former Soviet Union (FSU). When their political and economic system imploded, President Gorbachev tried to steer the country toward some type of democratic reforms. There were long bread lines and many social problems in Russia. Our church was a founding member of an organization called Special Outreach Siberia (SOS). We were registered with the Fund for Democracy and Development, a program initiated by the US State Department. The program was chaired by Lee Iacocca and developed to supply humanitarian assistance to the FSU. We filled containers with humanitarian supplies and the State Department provided free transport to an address of our choice within the eleven time zones composing the FSU.
SOS focused on the Siberian region east of the Ural Mountains. Our specific focus was to the members of the Russian underground church that had been persecuted and suppressed during the communist era. The church was now resurfacing, practicing their faith openly and assisting the poor citizens in their communities. We helped them with funding for building rentals to conduct worship services and provided food and household products.
We also provided leadership training and helped them start new churches. We shipped medical supplies to hospitals and clinics in their towns and cities and provided teams of medical personnel. Our outreach came to a close in 2005 when the political winds began to shift in Russia. The State Department ended the humanitarian shipment program due to political complications and corruption within Russia. During the SOS time period we established relationships with many donor organizations in the U.S. We also saw large numbers of families in our own community needing assistance. In 1994 we started the Bread of Life Outreach.
How We Help
For the past 28 years, BOLO has received and distributed a variety of products at no cost to the recipients. Products include: canned goods, meats, fresh produce, cereals and snacks. Non-food items include: cleaning supplies, health and beauty aids, diapers, formula, non-prescription medicines and vitamins. Also available are medical supplies and equipment, school supplies, household items, used furniture and appliances. We have a small warehouse (6,500 sq. feet) with a loading dock and a forklift truck located at 35 N. Front Street, Newport, PA. We recently purchased an 11,000 sq. ft. Sports Emporium Building (PA Extreme Athletics) between Newport and Millerstown. This building has been renovated to provide additional warehouse space.
One part-time person manages our volunteer warehouse crews, and oversees the day to day processes. Along with the founding pastor, they identify and maintain relationships various donors. Over 300 volunteers from various churches and members of our community make it work. Over 12,000 volunteer hours have been documented during the year of 2019. In 2019, BOLO received, processed and distributed 1,849 tons of product. Since record keeping began in 1994 to date, BOLO has distributed 46,313 tons of product.
Currently 1,673 families are on our local community active care list (3,988 individuals). Our compassion ministry has three main objectives, to serve the struggling, help the helpers and encourage entrepreneurs. First of all we serve individuals and families with incomes below the poverty line. In addition to providing products from our warehouse we network and combine our resources with groups like the Salvation Army, Join Hands, The Wings of Kindness Foundation and local churches to provide funds for rent, heat, utilities, etc.
We also assist the working poor. Many of these families do not qualify for government assistance but often cannot meet common household expenses from month to month. Since we do not receive any funding from the government, we are able to help large numbers of people who fit this category.
We have various means by which we distribute products:
- Free shopping for food and non-food items at our Newport Front Street Warehouse three days each week including one evening.
- Pre-packed food boxes, frozen food, fresh produce, household products and over the counter medications are distributed the fourth Saturday of each month at Journey Christian Church, Thompsontown, PA.
- Emergency food and medical supplies are provided as needed.
- Frozen food distribution the second Saturday of each month at the Family Life Center, 27 W. Shortcut Road Newport.
- Products supplied to stock the food pantries of regional churches.
- Pantries located in seven public school buildings supplying food and personal hygiene products to students in need.
- Church attendees deliver boxes to struggling families identified in their neighborhood on their way home following Sunday worship services.
- Products are shared with trusted ministry partners and network agencies involved in compassion outreach primarily in the Eastern US and selected areas throughout the nation.
In addition to products from our warehouse, the following services are provided to struggling members of our community.
- Life Recovery Ministry (Professional counselors and volunteer mentors assist individuals with life controlling addictions)
- Alcoholics Anonymous group
- Common Bond (Two support groups for grieving mothers and widows.)
- Genesis (A group for men struggling with pornography and/or other sexually habitual and addictive behaviors)
- Prom Perfect Event (Free prom gowns, tuxedos, suits and accessories)
- Christmas Toy Distribution (Gifts for parents to give to their children)
- Little Shoppers Christmas Distribution (Gifts for children to give to their parents)
- Yearly Job Fairs with EDSI, to connect the unemployed and under-employed with local employers.
- Mentoring services (Marriage, parenting, budgeting, food preparation and additional life skills)
- Assisting school children (Back packs, school supplies, haircuts, clothing, etc.)
- Offer friendship, hope, direction, strength and encouragement through Jesus Christ, the Christian community and the practical teachings of Scripture.
Our second objective is to help the helpers. BOLO networks with and assists the helping agencies and organizations in Perry County and other locations to help accomplish their mission.
Our third objective it to encourage entrepreneurs. We are thankful for the business men and women who invest in our community and make it work. Gratitude is expressed through notes of appreciation and bags of goodies…simple tokens of appreciation.