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Abundant Life Church Pastor Charlie Riley, pictured on Dec. 24, 2019, and his church donated more than $25,000 to three schools to pay for overdue lunch fees, including at Kokomo High School and Peru High School.

“A desire to give life, love and value to everyone, everywhere, every day” is the mission of Abundant Life Church. But it’s more than just words. It’s action that makes an impact on the community.

The church took action recently, donating $25,500 to schools in the name of lunch debt relief.

Lead pastor Charles Riley is always looking for ways the church can fulfill its mission statement. Riley praised other local organizations for their work, such as the Kokomo Rescue Mission, We Care, Coordinated Assistance Ministries and Advantage Housing.

His goal was to find a different cause that could have slipped through the cracks and avoid duplicating another provided service.

“What we were looking for was where there is a gap,” he said. “Where is there a gap that maybe has been overlooked or not looked at before that we can do?

“I feel like there’s a lot of things done in this community for lower-income people, but there’s got to be gaps in there, there’s got to be places where the need isn’t being met.”

Lunch debt is one issue that is personal to Riley.

“I grew up on free and reduced lunches, so I know how that feels,” he said.

So, the church donated to several area schools. Kokomo High School received $5,425; Peru High School received $11,425; and Washington Woods Elementary School in Westfield received $8,650. While the donations have been given to the schools, they must first be approved at school board meetings to be accepted.

The selected schools all have connections to Abundant Life Church. There are campuses of the church in Kokomo and Westfield currently, while Peru’s campus will open in the first quarter of 2020.

“We’d love in the future to broaden it out because I’m sure there’s a need … we thought with our first go-around we’d keep it simple,” Riley said.

The money donated came from the church’s mission funds. Riley said the church’s goal is to put 10% of what comes into the ministry back out into the community.

Riley has two goals concerning lunch debt going forward. First, he hopes that in May the church can write another check to help make sure no child’s diploma is withheld due to lunch debt.

“Number two: What if other churches or organizations found out that there’s a need here and they blessed them too?” he said. “I think that would be cool.”

Riley said, if possible, the church would have loved to write the check and have no one know about it.

“We did it just to be the hands and arms of Jesus reaching out into the community,” he said. “We wanted to be a blessing somehow.”

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