“Elsy’s Buckets of Love,” a Tri County mission project, offers a new dimension of love for the Phillip Shuford family. As director of missions for the Tri County Baptist Association, he was quick to respond to a food crisis in Venezuela, the native home of his wife, Elsy. “Her home church, Central Baptist Church of Caracas, Venezuela, sent us a letter and asked if we could help with their food shortage,” he said.
Shuford went on to explain that the country of Venezuela is experiencing a man-made food shortage. “The government is putting restrictions on the growing of food and on the importing of goods into the country. They are removing the workers and replacing the jobs with government people who don’t know how to do the work,” he said.
“Central Baptist Church reached out to us because of our connections,” Shuford said. “I preached at the church. It is an amazing church doing wonderful things. The church members and their neighbors don’t have enough to eat, so they asked if we could help.”
“I love this project because it is church to church,” Shuford said. “Our churches had experience filling buckets for the Baptist Global Response for Africa. We decided to fill buckets with food and ship them to the church.”
Shuford said his wife was resistant to naming the project after her. “So many people love her,” he said. “They will enjoy hearing from her and make the connection. They knew that they are supporting her extended family and friends in Venezuela.”
Shuford reported that sixteen churches in the Tri County Baptist Association provided 106 buckets (3,000 lbs.) filled with nonperishable foods such as rice and beans. “In addition, we had several donations which we used to buy more food when we took the buckets to Florida,” he said. “We purchased the additional food and fit it around what was packed in the buckets.”
“I was hoping to get 25 buckets,” Shuford said. “I was planning to drive a pick-up truck to Florida and ship the food. When we had more than 100 buckets come in, I rented a box truck to make the delivery.”
Shuford believes small churches adopted the project because they could complete it. “So many of the smaller churches took part in addition to some Sunday School classes in the larger churches,” he said. “It truly is a church partnership. Churches are looking outside the four walls,” he continued, “they have a strong desire to be involved in God’s work. They just need to know how to do it. This offered a hands-on experience and not just cutting a check.”