Elmira’s Zion Mennonite Fellowship is ready to practice what it preaches with its new lending service, Neighbour to Neighbour.
Organizer Bruce Weber says the idea came about when the congregation was brainstorming ways they could reach out to the community.
“Elmira is thought to be the friendly little town that it is, but in reality there are a lot of people here who don’t know anybody. And so the idea was to bring the idea of how neighbours should be acting back to town again and make it something so people in town can get to know other people. We wanted to help out where we could. That was really the impetus of it,” Weber said.
They’ve distributed brochures throughout Elmira which list the items people can borrow, things like crock pots, tools, folding tables, gardening tools and camping equipment.
He says they polled the members of the church to find out what items they had they’d be willing to loan someone and made the list from that. He notes it’s not an exhaustive list. If someone comes to them looking to borrow something that isn’t on the list they can ask their members if anyone would be willing to lend the particular item.
“We all have those times, ‘man if I only had a ladder, I just need to get up on these eavestroughs and I don’t have a ladder and it’s not worth me buying one. Who can I go to?’ Now with us in the congregation we have lots of people so we just call somebody up and say ‘can I borrow a ladder,’ and ‘oh no problem.’ So we’re just kind of expanding it beyond just who we are to people we don’t know,” Weber said.
They’re not looking to compete with rental companies though, since they’re not lending power tools or other big ticket items. They were advised not to lend large tools like skill saws for insurance reasons, but they do have tools like handsaws, cordless drills and sledge hammers for loan.
“It’s the kind of stuff, you know I just wish I had a bigger cooking pot for this one occasion or I need a big thermos – we’re having a group of people and we need a bigger thermos. Or we planted a tree and need a garden hose for a few weeks, or something like that. That’s the nature of it,” he said.
He says he wasn’t surprised by the generosity of the congregation, which immediately stepped up to offer a wide range of items.
“We all have stuff in our basement, our garage that we use once a year or never. And yet if you’re new into the community, even if you’re not new to the community, sometimes you just need something for a one-off. It’s not worth buying it,” Weber said.
You don’t have to be a member of the church to use the program. Despite being downtown on Arthur Street he says many people don’t know about the church and this might spark a bit more interest in them.
“We’re not going to preach at them or anything like that. We’re just there to be who God called us to be and that is to be generous with what we have,” Weber said.
Those interested in using the Zion Mennonite Fellowship’s Neighbour to Neighbour lending program can contact Weber at 519-669-4172.