Everyone knows this country is hurting pretty badly, the worst since the Depression. Whenever that happens, those who are the neediest are always hit the hardest. So it is in Champaign County. The stock market may fluctuate, but the burden on the poor is constant and the lines for food and clothing keep getting longer. In our county, we are fortunate to have a lot of agencies and ministries that seek to keep up with this increasing demand. One is Salt and Light.

Five years ago, some people from area churches decided that it was not good enough just to pray to bless people, particularly those who had a lot of need. In their small churches, they saw a lot of people struggling with the day to day. In the Bible, it says Christians should be "Salt and Light to the world," to actually do things to affect the lives of those around them who are in need. So the group begin to meet, secured a building, and began raising funds for food and accepting clothing and other donations — all to be given away for free in Jesus' name with no strings attached. And in a quiet way, this ministry, over the last five years, and now located on Anthony Drive in Champaign, has steadily given food, clothing, appliances, and furniture to over 200 families on a weekly basis.

Then the economy dived and the demand for food began to skyrocket. Things looked shaky for this much needed outreach to the poor.

Nathan Montgomery — who once had a job in corporate America and was willing to give it up to oversee Salt and Light  — and his wife Jenny — who is becoming a special education teacher — and their four chilrdren, had always opted to make the ministry the priority in their lives. It meant a lot of sacrifice because ministries do not pay huge salaries and sometimes they would go without a paycheck for multiple months. Still they persisted

One of the areas of sacrifice involved their family home in Philo. It was very old and in really bad shape, growing worse over time without the funds and time to fix it up. They were so focused on serving others who were worse off than them, they just hung in with the situation. For them, this was a calling.

It was at that very time, when, in fact, Salt and Light was struggling the most, that, in their eyes, a miracle happened. Out of the blue, they were nominated to receive a house from the TV show, Extreme Home Make-Over. After lots of prayer and paperwork, they were selected to receive a brand new home to replace the one that was falling apart.

When this happened, not only did they receive a new house, but Salt and Light, which was not in the greatest shape either, when seen by all the Extreme Make-Over volunteers, was also made over, including new furniture, complete painting, new freezers and a huge stock of food for their pantry which was already serving over 200 families a month. In the wink of an eye, their lives and the existence of the ministry had been transformed.

However, with this national exposure and the continuing depressed economy, the number of families lining up weekly soared to over 400 (sometimes 500) and has maintained since last Fall. Recently, the demand has been so great that Salt and Light has been struggling to keep the food (all gotten from an area lifeline —The Eastern Illinois Foodbank) equal to the demand. They need your help.

Therefore, because of this constant demand for food and because every dollar contributed is worth $10 of food from the Foodbank, Salt and Light decided to do a Canless FoodDrive. Starting on June 1 and running through the month of June you will see cans in nearly 250 business (red and white like a Campbell soup can) by the cash registers and you can contribute financially-cash or checks-- what you choose at any time you patronize those businesses-restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, auto repair, hotels and motels, even a funeral parlor. The cans will be there for you in just about any place you go. Please be generous. The need is great. Thank you.

— Vern Fein