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Special Needs Group Gives Back Through Community Garden

Special in God's Eyes, a group from St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Barrington, has created a large vegetable garden for charity.

There can be a lot involved in the care of someone with special needs. From medical services to the love and generosity of friends and family, it can take a village. A group called “Special in God’s Eyes” at in Barrington is giving back to the community who has done so much for them.

The group, which is composed of young adults with special needs, has planted fruits and vegetables from seeds to create the church’s Community Garden. 

“It’s kind for like a safe haven, a fun place for them,” Special in God's Eyes co-chair Patricia Marks explained about the group. 

With the help of church volunteers, the garden has simply flourished since its birth two years ago, producing dozens of pounds of food. All of it is donated to the Food Pantry.

Marks, who runs the group along with Margaret Christiansen, has also overseen the care of the garden. It all started last year when Marks went to a workshop about community gardening and how to grow produce for food pantries.

“Last year we did this small container garden,” she said. “One of the dads does a lot of raised bed gardening. He had suggested that we do that. He had built three raised beds. One of our members, Jim Goebbert, had more raised beds built and now we have six,” she said.

The garden holds a variety of produce, including tomatoes, melons, beans, parsley, Swiss chard, zucchini, peppers and onions. The church has been able to fill about eight plastic grocery bags full of produce each week for the food pantry.

“It’s really been a blessing to our congregation. We take it to the Barrington Township Food Pantry and they are like, ‘This is unbelieveable,’” she said. “I’m over there twice a week bringing food over.”

Marks said the special needs group really enjoys giving back to the community, and has learned a lot from growing the vegetable garden.

“Because people do give them a lot, we want them to give back,” she said. When asked if the group understands that they are helping others, Marks gave an enthusiastic, ‘Yes.’

Special in God’s Eyes is for young adults age 22 and older. There’s no cost, and no obligation to join the church. The group meets on Tuesdays. For more information contact sige@specialingodseyes.com.

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