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Mercy and Grace Ministries – A not-for-profit food charity born out of need and love 

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As I walked towards Brett and Anna Newcombe’s humble home situated on a busy corner road on the Central Coast there was an undeniable sense of business and purpose. 

From farm trucks parked on the well-worn path to take away food waste for their animals, to the abundant supply of fresh fruit and vegetables being unloaded from Brett’s ute for needy local families, the scene in front of me was busy and happening. 

As my eyes scanned the boxes being vigorously packed in their humble garage by a cheerful bunch of volunteers, I noticed there was everything the average Aussie family would need for the week from fresh goodies, toiletries, dairy and meats, school supplies, and even the latest edition of popular monthly magazines and it was all free. Always. The constant stream of cars and people on foot picking up their weekly food boxes displayed an organised and well-run charity. 

As Brett was manoeuvring a large palette of bread, he had picked up that morning from one of the 3 major supermarket chains he collected from I managed to steal a few minutes of his time to ask him about the farmers outside and just how many runs he covers in his week collecting to feed locals in need. I was surprised to hear that somehow, he managed to fit on average 8 runs a day, starting at 6am and often not finishing until 4pm, 7 days a week with the exception of Good Friday and Christmas Day as the supermarkets are closed. Regarding the waste collected by local farmers, Brett estimates that within the period of a year they had processed over 176 tonnes of food with all waste going directly to the farmers for animal feed managing to keep it out of landfill and instead into the bellies of pigs and other local farm animals.

Mercy and Grace Ministry became a registered charity in September 2021 approximately a little under a year after it started and now has 25 volunteers including Brett and Anna’s 3 teenage children.

Mercy and Grace was birthed organically out of Anna and Brett’s hearts as they had found themselves not in a dissimilar situation not long before Mercy and Grace began. In 2019 Anna fell seriously ill and out of work and hence they found themselves having to rely on the helping hand of a local church that supplied local families in need.

Anna tells me the story with a tear in her eye as she recalls the story of the food box she received as she struggled to rebuild her life after having to learn to walk and talk again from a mystery illness that no doctor could diagnose. “Brett had to become my carer as there was no government assistance at the time because they couldn’t diagnose me as they had no idea what was going on with my body. Having 3 children to care for it became a real struggle. I was so grateful after walking into that church and being handed a food parcel without question, it will be a moment that will always stay in my heart”

As time went on and Anna started to heal, they then took on the role of assisting to help with the weekly food parcels donated by the church and word spread. As the need grew Brett and Anna soon began to take charge of collecting as well as distributing and eventually the ministry was handed directly to them.

Now they feed just shy of 200 regular families a week and turn no one away. Being on a busy corner means they get knocks on the door at all times of the day but visitors are always met with a warm smile and never go away empty-handed. 

Between packing boxes and handing out supplies and hugs to her regulars Anna tells me some truly miraculous stories of timely provision for their families in need that makes me think their charity is truly a one-off “We have a family this weekend with a 10-year-old boy who’s never had a birthday party and just this morning one of our regular supermarket chains loaded me up with inflatable balls, balloons, chocolate, and frozen pizza, so we are just so excited to be able to help this family out for his birthday and he will be none the wiser that it was from us’ She also proceeded to fill me in on the 50 hams they received last Christmas as well as the timely beginning of term school supplies, clothes, and toys.

Last Christmas they even managed to organise a pop-up charity shop outside their home where everything was free and are often contacted by local schools and other community groups when there is a family in need.

Brett and Anna’s humility and passion is remarkable and something to be admired. Their vision now is to create a community to help those in need where people can come to rest and restore. They want to be able to offer warm showers and warm beds, cooking classes, counselling, gardening, and life skills, and from what I can see their dream to build a community of kindness and love is surely just around the corner.

www.mercyandgraceministries.com.au

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