City Lights Poverty Initiative

Our City Lights poverty initiative exists to provide help, support, and resources to those people who need a hand up during these tough economic times. Check out some of the ways City Lights is making a difference in our communities.

  • Angel Tree Gift Card

    The Christmas season is a time of great joy, but also a time of great stress and financial struggle. Every year with our Angel Tree gift card outreach, City Lights works hard to help struggling families ease the financial burden of providing a memorable Christmas experience. Each November, a sponsorship campaign is held providing the opportunity to donate to families in need. We collect information from struggling families, and assign each child a predetermined gift amount based on age and family need.

    The Angel Tree holds ornaments that each represent a gift card in the amount of $25. Donations can be made by credit or debit cards at the church kiosk, o by check that can be dropped off at The Welcome Center. Gift cards are presented to families no later than December 15 so they are able to make purchases in time for Christmas.

  • School Supply Giveaway

    Back to school time can be costly, and many children start the school year without their needed supplies. City Lights utilized various approaches over the years to help with this issue, including a giant back-to-school giveaway, supplying over 2,000 book bags to the Akron area. Over time, we have developed a more cost-effective program to serve those in our target area in the best manner possible.

    The current program specifically targets the local school districts in our multiple campus communities and families attending a Cornerstone Church campus. Sponsorship opportunities are made available, with the ability to sponsor a child for various dollar amounts. Once donations are completed, the funds are used to buy bookbags and school supplies that are then donated to the local school system for distribution. Gift cards are also distributed to individual families if needed. Gift cards are made available to families by the end of July, so that those in need are able to take advantage of the tax free school shopping days in our area.

    Volunteers for this outreach are always welcome for set up, identifying those in need of assistance, and distributing information about the outreach and the schools that it serves.

  • Bread Giveaway

    The Bread Giveaway outreach was established in January 2014 when the local Food Bank had an abundance of bread that they needed to dispatch. This was ideal for City Lights since the recipients of the bread do not need to fill out any eligibility forms and it can be distributed at the church on a weekly basis. We look at the Bread Giveaway as a means to both supply a food staple to those in need as well as an opportunity to connect with individuals who may be searching for the Father and a church family.

    The bread is picked up from the Food Bank every Wednesday morning then displayed at Cornerstone Church PLX. The giveaway is open to the community every Wednesday night from 5 PM to 6:30 PM. Each individual/family is permitted to take a set amount of bread ranging from two (2) to four (4) loaves. Other items such as pastries and snack varieties may also be available at that time.

    The Bread Giveaway does not require multiple volunteers, but there are often volunteer positions available. These include Giveaway facilitators, bread pick-up and delivery, and a representative who is knowledgeable about both Cornerstone Church and other City Lights outreaches. Church representatives would be responsible for making personal connections with those we serve and to inform them of upcoming City Lights and church events.

  • Car Donation

    There are many people who need a reliable car, and many who are looking to unload of a car. City Lights accepts vehicle donations to help meet the needs of others.

    We accomplish meeting needs through this outreach in three crucial ways:

    1. Our first priority is to give a working car to someone in need.
    2. We have given many cars to families in desperate need of a functioning vehicle. We also utilize car donations by selling a car outright to help fund City Lights programs.
    3. If a car is not operational, we will sell the vehicle to a salvage yard for money that can be used to further support City Lights work.

    Vehicle donations are always appreciated, and City Lights solicits cars through word of mouth and a twice a month social media posting.

    To request assistance with either donating or you are in need of a car, please fill out this form and one of our Ministry Partners will be in contact with you shortly.

  • Church Facility Care

    City Lights believes it is as important to help with the many facility care projects of the church as it is to help with community outreaches. It is important to show support for both those in the community and in our own church and operating base. For this reason, City Lights volunteers often help with various upkeep projects in both the interior and exterior of the church campuses. This includes lawn maintenance, gardening, painting, cleaning, and other various projects.

    City Lights is always looking for volunteers to help with projects and upkeep around the church campuses. Projects can often be worked around volunteer schedules. Individuals with time, passion, or a specialized skill are always welcome to become a part of the facility care team.

  • Clothing Giveaway

    The need for good, clean clothing is constant - especially for children who are always growing and needing additional clothing for school and other activities.

    City Lights has a steady supply of donated clothing to help meet both adult and child needs. Donated clothing is provided free of cost to meet immediate requirements of families both within the church and to other families in need.

    Clothing is sorted according to size and gender, and then a social media posting informs both church members and other friends/followers about available clothing. Clothing is then arranged to be picked up at the church, or a location agreed upon by the outreach leader and the recipient.

    Donations are always appreciated! Donated clothing is used for the clothing giveaway, the annual City Lights coat giveaway, and for Jesus Said Ministries.

  • Coat Giveaway

    When the fall and winter months begin, the dropping temperatures leave those in the community reaching for their winter coats to brave the cold weather. Unfortunately, many struggling families lack the funds needed to provide both adults and children with adequate winter wear. City Lights works hard collecting winter coats to give to those in need, with a special focus on children. Coats are gathered throughout the year, with a main push in spring when most people discard their old coats. City Lights also connects to receive coats from various agencies in our local campus communities. City Lights accepts all donations of clean coats that are in good condition. New coat donations are also appreciated.

    City Lights holds an Annual Coat Giveaway in early fall, before the cold weather arrives. The local school systems are contacted and announcements are made to their school age children/families. Volunteers also hold signs advertising the coat giveaway on various locations around the community. City Lights has found these methods to be very effective at reaching families in need.

    Volunteers are always appreciated to donate, sort, and distribute coats as well as to help promote the giveaway.

  • Community Dinner

    An extension of the City Lights Food Giveaway is the monthly Community Dinner. City Lights partners with the Food Bank and individual food donations to facilitate a dinner where anyone in the church or community is welcome enjoy a free, hot meal and good company. This is an opportunity to get to know community members, introduce them to Cornerstone Church, and show the love of Jesus. A main course, side dishes, bread, beverages, and dessert are always provided.

    The Community Dinner is the last Monday of every month at 5 PM in the Community Room at Cornerstone Church PLX. The doors open early with dinner served after a short devotional reading and prayer. The dinner generally ends at approximately 6:30 PM.

    Volunteers are always needed to help prepare and serve food, set up, and clean up. Volunteers are also encouraged to interact with those attending the dinner and invite those without a church family to attend a service.

  • Food Bank

    Many City Lights outreaches rely on the Akron/Canton Food Bank. The community dinner, food giveaway, Grove giveaway, and the homeless hike are just a few of the City Lights outreaches that partner with the Food Bank to help serve those in need. In return for all of the food they supply to our vital outreaches, City Lights gives back to the food bank by volunteering at their various food drives and volunteer days.

    Three times a year, City Lights arranges an Akron/Canton Food Bank volunteer day at which City Lights volunteers help sort items at the Food Bank. Volunteers may also help with food drives and food donations, as well as take advantage of other food bank volunteer opportunities throughout the year.

  • Food Pantry

    City Lights partners with the local food bank to give food staples to struggling individuals and families. Each family is invited to come once per month to receive food staples such as bread, meat, canned goods, cereal, and other dry goods. Fresh produce and snacks are provided when available, and emergency food is also provided as needed.

    To request food, please fill out this form. If you have an emergency need, please call us at 330.644.3937.

    The food giveaway is every 2nd and 4th Wednesday and takes place at Cornerstone Church PLX in the community room. Volunteers begin serving as early as 8:45 a.m. and can stay as long as they are able. Families receive food appointments and pick up their items when scheduled.

    Volunteers are always needed to pick up, stock, assemble, distribute, and load food packages for needy families, as well as to log families into the computer system. Volunteers also link families to other resources both within and outside of the church, make personal connections, and show the love of Christ through faithful service.

  • Fundraising Opportunities

    City Lights is proud to be a primarily self-sufficient outreach program. We work diligently to raise independent funding for our various outreaches. City Lights aims to provide the needed funds to reach as many people as possible with minimal financial impact on Cornerstone Church. In order to achieve that goal, we employ Ebay, Craigslist, and an annual rummage sale to increase and earn funds. This creative fundraising allows City Lights to serve individuals at no cost and generate further income for our ministries.

    • Ebay/Craigslist - Throughout the year, the church receives numerous donations of furniture, clothing, and other miscellaneous items. Whenever possible, these items are used to help struggling families. Often times, we receive more items than we can give away. Donated items carrying a higher value are listed for sale on Ebay or Craigslist, generating more earned profit to fund our outreaches. This form of fundraising also allows City Lights to partner with individuals who are in need by allowing them to manage the sale of these items online to then earn a portion of the proceeds from their Ebay store. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement for both City Lights and an individual in need.
    • Rummage Sale - Currently, City Lights’ largest fundraiser is the annual rummage sale. Typically held in early June (with an occasional second sale towards the end of the summer) at the Cornerstone Church PLX campus, this popular community event routinely generates several thousand dollars. Most items for sale are donated by church members, and the soliciting of these items takes place throughout the year. Items that are collected can be given to needy families at no cost as needs arise. Items with higher value can potentially be used in the City Lights Ebay/Craigslist fundraising program. If a person has items that they wish to donate, but require assistance with pick-up or drop-off, they can call the church and make arrangements. There are always volunteers needed for this outreach for both time and donations.
  • Furniture

    City Lights believes that a furniture program is essential to any poverty outreach, and there are always families in need of various furniture items. The furniture outreach receives a steady supply of donated items used to meet immediate household furniture needs on a regular basis. Items are provided to families free of charge, and delivery arrangements can be made, if necessary. If an immediate furniture need is not identified, the various pieces are then sold through our fundraising programs in order to generate more revenue for various City Lights outreaches.

    Volunteers are always welcome to help locate, retrieve, and distribute furniture items. Donations are always appreciated.

    If you need assistance with furniture, or would like to donate furniture, please fill out this form and a Ministry Partner will be in contact with you.

  • Grove Community Giveaway

    In 2014, Cornerstone Church decided to move food outreach to a community level by taking the food to the community instead of having the community come to the church. The Grove Community was an obvious choice as it is neighbors the PLX campus and has a high percentage of the population at poverty level. This outreach allows City Lights to be visible outside of the church and to make more personal connections with those we serve.

    Once a month during the summer season, City Lights erects what is best described as a large produce stand with fresh vegetables, dry goods, and canned goods. Families and individuals are invited to come to the food giveaway and volunteers help them choose, bag, and load their basic food staples. City Lights also provides a light lunch so community members can interact with City Lights members and the church, enjoying the summer sun and good conversation.

    Volunteers are always needed and help with obtaining food, organizing food distribution, assisting people with their selections, replenishing stock as needed, helping people to their cars, food preparation for the lunch, clean-up, and much more. If you have a heart to serve the community, this outreach might be a perfect fit!

  • Holiday Food Baskets

    The holidays can be very challenging for many people in need. With all of the annual activities and financial obligations, it can prove difficult for families to provide all that they would like for their loved ones. The Holiday Food Basket Outreach tries to alleviate some of the financial burden associated with these times of year by supplying those in need with a full holiday dinner basket. These baskets include a full size ham or turkey, along with various side dishes. When possible, fresh food items are also provided.

    Holiday Food Baskets are provided for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The food is assembled and presented to needy families, with current Cornerstone Church attendees being first priority. After church members are provided for, other needy families are served as budget allows. Volunteers are always appreciated to assemble and distribute the food baskets, and food donations are always welcome.

  • Home Repairs

    At one time or another, every home owner faces a seemingly endless list of home repairs. Whether a home needs electrical, plumbing, carpentry, or repairs outside of the home, sometimes a person finds themselves lacking the finances or skills needed to make repairs. City Lights recruits volunteers with an array of skills to help struggling home owners with these much needed repairs.

    Services are offered free of charge to both church members and those in the surrounding community.

    Volunteers are always needed to help organize, lead, and complete various repairs both inside and outside of the home, as well as organize, lead, and participate in special projects throughout the community. Volunteers can either use a specialized skill that they have, or assist others who are more knowledgeable with home repair projects. Volunteers are also needed for neighborhood projects such as trash pick-up, leaf removal, and snow shoveling for community members who are physically unable to maintain their property.

    If you are in need of home repairs, or would like more information about becoming a Ministry Partner in this area please fill out this form and a Ministry Partner will be in contact with you.

  • Homeless Hike

    One of the most demanding and eye-opening outreaches through City Lights is the Homeless Hike. Once a month a small group of individuals hike along the railroad tracks that run through downtown Akron, bringing food, personal care items, and friendship to the many homeless individuals that camp along the tracks. The hike is open to a maximum of four church members. The rest of the group often includes government agency workers, judges, doctors, and other prominent members of the community. This allows everyone involved to make personal connections with the homeless individuals and to use that knowledge to better serve them in their respective fields.

    The hike can be very physically vigorous, as the group typically travels from one to three railroad tracks and the trail is often winding, steep, and wet. Each hiker must be in good health and able to carry up to 40 pounds on their backs while hiking long distances.

    Volunteers help gather, pack, and distribute food and personal care items. Volunteer opportunities are limited, but donations of food and personal care items are always appreciated, as is help gathering supplies the day of the hike if the maximum number of volunteers has already been reached.

  • Jesus Said Ministry

    Jesus Said Ministry is a large collaborative outreach that focuses on homeless individuals in the downtown Akron area. This outreach began in the 1990’s by a Cornerstone Church member, and has expanded to include many other organizations and volunteers.

    Each Saturday, Jesus Said provides a short message, worship music, a home cooked meal, and a lunch that is packaged for homeless individuals to take with them. On a typical Saturday more than two hundred individuals are served through this outreach.

    Jesus Said Ministry is every Saturday morning from 8:30 AM to 11 AM in downtown Akron. City Lights volunteers can serve on any Saturday, but the first Saturday of each month is allotted specifically to Cornerstone Church volunteers. Volunteers are always needed to help with set up, the cooking and serving of food, and with the clean up process.

  • Ready Meals

    City Lights recognizes that when people are faced with unexpected traumas such as family illness or the loss of a loved one, struggling or grieving families often benefit from help in the form of a home cooked meal. This has resulted in the formation of the Ready Meals outreach. Ready Meals creates healthy home cooked meals that are packaged and delivered to families or individuals in need.

    Ready Meals volunteers meet once a month in the Cornerstone Church PLX kitchen to prepare and package meals, which consist of many hearty soups and casseroles. When informed of a family or individual who could benefit from their outreach, volunteers personally deliver the food in order to make personal connections with those that they serve.

    Volunteers are always welcome to help plan, cook, and deliver meals to those in need. Volunteers may also alert outreach members to those they feel may benefit from a home cooked meal due to extenuating life circumstance.