Many church functions require volunteers and donations to get them going, either to raise funds or just to minimize costs. Having people who can ask for donations from local business or stores can help to both reduce the costs of the event and bring a true spirit of community to anything from a pancake breakfast to a BBQ picnic. The old adage "You do not ask, you do not get" has never been more true!
Make a list of the sort of party or event you are planning. If you want to have a pancake breakfast (and who does not love those?) then you need to make a list of how many people will be there and estimate how many pancakes they will consume, as well as how much butter, syrup, and so on. This will help you understand how much to ask for and from where.
Look up stores in your area that might be able to help. Most large chain stores allow their stores to donate food to local charities in moderate amounts. Even smaller local stores may be able to donate food for a party if given enough lead time. That way you can thank more people and stores when you give thanks.
ASK for the stuff on your list. This is the part that makes some people balk. But if you do not ask, you will not get. Bigger stores will have no problem saying yes (or no) and not be personal about it. This is what they do. Smaller stores will give what they can. Always be polite and very thankful. They might say NO this time but YES the next.
KEEP lists of the stores you have asked for donations so you do not keep going back to the same stores too often. This will make sure you do not wear out your welcome. You can also see if any of your group's members have contacts with the local stores and see if they might be able to help.