WINDSOR - One Bertie County church is giving back to those who could not stop going because of COVID-19.

St. Elmo Baptist Church Pastor Margaret Ann Barber said it was laid on her heart to do something special to the essential workers throughout Bertie County.

“I wanted to show appreciation to the essential workers who have put themselves at risk to help serve others. These have been retail workers, school employees and healthcare workers who have continued to work through this pandemic to provide services and keep open businesses everyone needed,” she said.

Pastor Barber said she discussed the idea of an event in the community with the St. Elmo Baptist Church Willing Workers Outreach Ministry.

“The mission of the ministry is to provide outreach and evangelism to the community. We want to show everyone God’s love,” Pastor Barber continued.

The group decided to begin having small gifts and meals to essential workers to say thank you and remind them of God’s love.

The first project was to provide gifts to the staff and residents at Brian Center Health and Rehabilitation and Three Rivers Health and Rehabilitation.

The staff received gift baskets with personal care items and devotions.

The residents of both facilities received foam hearts and devotions to remind them of God’s love.

The outreach group found the project successful, and decided they wanted to continue to bless others. They came up with the idea of a “Soup for Souls” ministry. The ministry would provide a hot soup lunch to say thank you for all the dedication and hard work of essential workers.

“During our first ‘Soup for Souls’ event, we provided lunch to the employees of both Family Dollars and Dollar General in Windsor. The staff (of each business) was so thankful. They kept saying no one has done this for us before,” said Pastor Barber.

The group also provided a soup lunch to the staff of Bertie County Schools Central Office. The group wanted to show their appreciation for everyone’s hard work to keep school going, even if it was virtual.

Last week, the group provided a hot meal to the staff of Vidant Bertie Hospital and Bertie County Rural Health.

“This was another successful event. We just want to let the essential workers know that we truly care for them. We are very grateful for those who have continued to work the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she continued.

Pastor Barber said the group has plans to continue the ministry, and the goal is to spread throughout the county. The group plans to change to a menu to involve cooler summer foods, but will continue to call the event “Soup for Souls.”

St. Elmo Baptist Church is located 108 St. Elmo St. in Windsor.

Leslie Beachboard can be reached via email at bertienews@ncweeklies.com.

Thadd White is Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and can be reached via email at twhite@ncweeklies.com.