By Ursula Brantley
Serving others means doing good for another living creature. Giving of yourself without expecting anything in return. There’s no such thing as quid pro quo when it comes to service. Serving helps the servant just as much as those being served. For several years, Drena and Guy Dodson have earnestly pursued their call to service in many ways. In 2020, they answered yet another call to spearhead the service organization 5 Loaves & 2 Fish. It’s a Christian organization on a mission to help those in need create self-sufficiency through services and programs while encouraging them to give back by serving their community. They are showing the love of Christ and modeling a New Testament community of living, serving, working, and worshipping together in the Lakeside/Queensborough area of Shreveport
The call to start the organization was presented to Drena and Guy after moving from their home in Broadmoor Terrace to a townhouse in Shreveport’s Lakeside area. As members of Celebration Church, the couple has been a part of foreign missions in places like Belize and Kenya since 2017. In 2019, the call to serve at home rang. Drena said, “We felt a prompting through the Holy Spirit that our “stuff” and 2,800 square foot home were in the way of our calling. We made the mutual decision to sell our house and give away or sell almost everything in it”. They prayed for direction and were led to Lakeside. Shortly after moving, the couple began volunteering at the food pantry next door. At that time, it was called Changing Directions Ministries and was run by a woman named Ms. Turner. In January 2020, they learned Ms. Turner would be moving out of town and the food pantry would be closing. Instead of letting over 100 families suffer, they decided to step up and take over the pantry. They began serving the community under the name 5 Loaves & 2 Fish in May 2020 and the rest is history. As of September 2023, 5L2F has helped 267 families. They hired their one and only staff member this year. They began with 5 volunteers plus their 2 kids and their spouses. Today, they have 31 consistent volunteers and regular assistance from other churches and organizations.
The food pantry remains stocked for community families in Shreveport. Though the NWLA Food Bank does provide goods, much of the pantry is provided for through the ministry’s finances, donations, and community effort. For example, Panera Bread in Shreveport allows them to pick up bread on Thursday and Friday nights at closing. 5L2F then freezes that bread until distribution time. Says Dodson, “If someone wants to do a food drive, we ask them to concentrate on supplying food for our homeless bags such as pop-top can goods, tuna packs, etc.” Because of USDA restrictions the food pantry is limited to Shreveport residents. All their other services are open to anyone in need though their focus is the Lakeside/Queensborough area. They offer a diaper bank to help those with babies and toddlers, Bible studies and other groups, and a media center for the community.
Their Christmas Blessings program was born of their obedience to selling their belongings and moving back in 2018. What began as a giveaway on Facebook Marketplace grew into a community mission to spread love. In their first year, the Dodsons and a host of generous others were able to help 7 families. As of 2022, 70 families have received Christmas trees with all the trimmings and goodies and 283 children have gotten presents, stockings, and clothes. The purpose of Christmas Blessings isn’t to take over for the parent, but to empower them. Says Dodson, “They can have Christmas presents under the tree and a Christmas morning experience with their children. The child doesn’t even have to know we were involved”.
In October 2023, the 5L2F fundraiser called 300 for 300 will begin. The goal is to help 300 families by 2024 through one-time donations of $300 or $25/month. They also take part in an annual Women’s Conference which takes place the same month and a Men’s Conference in February. They also host a Kid’s Camp in the summer, and they just launched an After-School Chill Spot for middle and high school students. Anyone who would like to donate to 5L2F can mail a check to 1638 Dilg League Dr.; Shreveport, LA 71109, go to their website www.5loaves-2fish.life, stop by their offices at 3966 Lakeshore Drive in Shreveport.