Thursday, November 1, 2012
McKinney food pantry stocking up for families in need this winter
Here's how you can help.
MCKINNEY Carol Bodwell has been feeding the community for 32 years and looks forward to the holidays. To her, fall donations are her way of "stocking the barn."
"It's not work, it's ministry," said Bodwell, volunteer director of Community Food Pantry in McKinney. "I really felt the calling. I feel like we have a responsibility as Christians to see that no one goes to bed hungry."
Community Food Pantry offers year round outreach six days a week. The pantry serves, on average, about 400 families a month, providing groceries for more than 10,000 meals each month. Although they do not do anything special for the holidays, Bodwell said this is the time of year when many food pantries begin stocking up for the months ahead.
Most of the time, however, these stores run out just in time for summer vacation, the second time of the year when benevolence is needed the most, she said.
"We're not very much unlike a Texas lake," Bodwell said. "It starts getting low in June and it gets lower and lower, and by time it reaches August and September, the water levels get way down and that's the same for us."
With canned food drives gearing up in schools and churches throughout the community just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Bodwell said sometimes crucial, everyday necessities can be overlooked.
"We get lots of canned goods over the holidays, but what we don't get is milk for our children, so our biggest need is baby formula," she said. "[We also need] powder milk and 15-oz. cans of evaporated milk. Many of our clients have no electricity, so no refrigeration."
While Bodwell said she is always grateful for the holiday generosity, she hopes that goodwill continues year round.
Located off Smith Street, the pantry starts "bailing hay" in October with Make a Difference Day. Last weekend's event spearheaded service projects that led into Scare Away Hunger, a community-wide food drive happening this weekend to help stock shelves at places like Community Food Pantry.
The event -- which is headed by 3e McKinney -- unites churches of multiple denominations for the common purpose of alleviating a basic need. The food donations are collected by numerous churches throughout the city and will be delivered to Christ Fellowship Church on Sunday. Church members will then haul the load off to Community Food Pantry in time for the holidays.
Mike McCullough, Christ Fellowship member and first-time organizer for Scare Away Hunger, said he hopes this year's drive brings in more canned goods, fruits, veggies, and non-bulk items, as numbers were slightly down last year.
"A lot of people don't realize that, although McKinney is so affluent, there are so many kids and families here that are going hungry," McCullough said. "Christ Fellowship gets on board because it's part of our faith, it's the core of our gospel. We're stepping outside of our comfort zone and convenience to help others."
To help spread the word, Christ Fellowship donned door hangers on front doors in local neighborhoods explaining their needs for the ministry.
"We told them we would be coming by to come trick or treating, and that they could give us canned goods instead of candy," McCullough said.
"It's always good to get to the heart of some local businesses here, too," McCullough said. "One of the things I've seen really here is that it's about being what God's about. It's not about having their stamp on things. I think [Christ Fellowship] also realizes that churches need each other, not one church has it all figured out."
Bodwell encouraged donors to take into account the condition of the food before handing it over, as about one-third of goods donated at open food drives like this are either damaged, out of date or already opened.
"It's hard to wrap our minds around poverty," Bodwell said. "What we hope for -- and what we are depending on -- is the holiday spirit to help stock up the barn for the winter. But we always hope that out of that spirit of giving comes a joy that makes people want to do this throughout the year, because hunger lasts throughout the year."
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