One young New Yorker is leaving behind a legacy of giving.
Plymouth Church volunteers delivered Thanksgiving meals Sunday for 100 low-income families on the Lower East Side. The food drive was organized by Brooklyn Delivers, a project founded in 2014 by Plymouth member Fiona McFerrin-Clancy when she was a high school freshman.
She developed the idea after visiting the Baruch Houses on the Lower East Side, where her younger brother played football. Some of the community members’ refrigerators, McFerrin-Clancy noticed, were “completely bare.”
“I decided to start a mobile food pantry that delivers 100 bags of groceries on the third week of each month,” McFerrin-Clancy said.
As many families receive food vouchers during the first days of the month, the end of the month is when food is often most needed.
“Since 2014, we have delivered over 30 tons of food, about a quarter of a million of individual meals and about 6,000 bags of food,” McFerrin-Clancy said.
Brooklyn Delivers is supported by Plymouth Church, which uses donations from members of the community to provide the food and other goods. Brooklyn Delivers also organizes backpack drives and grocery drives for those in need.
Goods are given out year-round, but there is a concerted effort around Thanksgiving. This year, volunteers delivered 100 meals to low-income families. Since 2014, about 600 Thanksgiving meals have been donated.
“We’re delighted Fiona is part of our congregation,” said Rev. Dr. Brett Younger, the senior minister at Plymouth Church.
The church has a long history of being involved with social justice efforts — Henry Ward Beecher, the pastor who founded the church in 1847, was active in the abolitionist movement and held a mock slave auction to buy the freedom of a slave after one of his Sunday morning sermons in 1860.
Famous visitors to the church include Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who delivered a speech, then called “The American Dream,” from the pulpit. Today, Plymouth is involved with several causes.
“This is a great Thanksgiving event, but it is also something we do on a monthly basis. So, throughout the year, Brooklyn Delivers is a ministry that consistently shares what we have with those who need it,” Younger said. “[Fiona] is living out what the church tries to teach — the church is supposed to share what they have, and we’re supposed to care for the poor”
McFerrin-Clancy, now 18, has graduated from high school and will attend Harvard next year.
“I’m going away for college, so I will be passing the torch to other youth, and I know they’ll be able to expand this project and use it to help other communities, find other locations, spread out our donations,” McFerrin-Clancy said.
“I also hope that they learn that not everything in the world is pretty. There are people that need help, and we can help them,” she said. “I hope the youth at Plymouth Church and elsewhere can learn and notice that just because you’re young, it doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference.”