featured graphic for Grateful Hearts

Grateful Hearts continues to provide service despite pandemic difficulties

Oh, what a year it was! In looking back over 2020, my honest first initial thought was “Thank God it’s over!” Taking a closer look, however, brings up much more positive thoughts regarding firstly, the faithfulness of God.

We are beyond grateful for His continued faithfulness to Grateful Hearts as we, along with the rest of the world, were catapulted into an unprecedented and extremely difficult season, unlike anything we have ever experienced. It also brings up a sense of heartfelt gratitude for you, our supporters and friends. We honestly could not have continued without your generous support!

Due to Covid-19 we were forced to reconfigure our entire food distribution process into a mobile program. Within a matter of weeks, we went from distributing 4500 meals per month to 10,000! As a result of Covid, our distribution numbers rose, but our volunteer base decreased. Fewer volunteers along with more individuals and families in need resulted in long lines in our parking lot, around the cul-de-sac, and continuing well onto Katella Ave. Covid related issues also kept 5 out of our 6 staff members away from our operations for a minimum of 2 weeks at a time, which led to greatly increased workloads on our remaining staff. Three of our Catalytic converters were stolen from our trucks, forcing us to rent trucks for weeks on end to continue our mission. Our new Thrift store was unable to open for months after our projected opening date… and on and on it went.

But out of these hardships grew an even stronger spirit of resilience! With over 300 food pantries closing (in Orange County alone) within the first months of Covid, we were even more determined to keep our doors open for the rising number of people losing their jobs, seniors on fixed incomes, shut-ins, and families struggling to keep food on their tables. I am so grateful to report that during all these setbacks, we continued to keep our doors open and in the year 2020 we provided over 101,000 meals to individuals and families in need, never skipping a beat! In addition to our regular daily operations, we were able to send 40 pallets of medical supplies, new clothing, hygiene, household items and other necessities overseas to impoverished and disaster ridden areas of Nicaragua.

We also provided hundreds of local struggling families with beautiful holiday meals for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and over 400 children were provided with Christmas gifts, who otherwise might have gone without. We distributed an additional 2300 pounds of food & other items to our active military through our partnership with the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, and were able to provide much needed hygiene products and other essential items to soldiers who were on lockdown during the most recent ensuing riots of unrest. Our veteran assistance program was in full swing, providing multiplied pallets of food, hygiene products, new mattresses, pillows and more to veterans on a weekly basis as well as through our partnership with American Veteran Assistance Group (AVAG) and US VETS who distributed the goods to low-income veteran mobile home parks, disabled veterans and veterans’ widows.

Our hearts have continued to remain wide open to receive all those who come to us for help, but the struggle to keep our doors open to provide this necessary assistance has been an ever increasing struggle. Our monies are never spent on frivolities or extras, but rather on basic operational costs such as rent, utilities, vehicle maintenance, fuel costs and the like. We continue with very old and less than optimal vehicles and equipment, all the while servicing and maintaining them as best as we can with the funds we receive.

Again, we are so thankful for your past support, and ask that you would prayerfully consider sowing a seed into our organization, helping to ensure that we can continue our mission in providing hope for the hurting!

This article was written by Blair Pietrini, CEO of Grateful Hearts Storehouse. To support Grateful Hearts, visit gratefulhearts.org.