Highland Park Baptist Church volunteers stood ready Saturday when vehicles pulled up to get a box of food from the food pantry.
The church held its open-pantry day in coordination with the From Our Hearts to Your Home ministry, which Helen Garrison, food pantry overseer, believes will be needed for the foreseeable future on the first Saturday morning of each month.
Garrison has worked with the food pantry for two years. Prior to her involvement, she said the pantry “wasn’t going anywhere.”
“So I decided to start from scratch,” she said. “I started out asking each Sunday School class to donate certain items to get it built up and then I got a budget and now I just get the card and just go buy what I need, unless it gets really bad and I have to call for the church family to help stock it back up. If I need help, I will send out a request for church members to help stock the food pantry back up and they bring it in. I mean they brought all this in this week pretty much.”
Boxes are filled with nonperishable foods, and $10 Ingles gift cards are given for items like milk, eggs and bread. Garrison said one box is for a family of two. A family of four will receive two boxes.
“We’re not only giving them the $10 gift card, but we’re giving them the Plan of Salvation (card) to where if they need, if they come in and they don’t go to church, they don’t know God as their savior, this is a witness to them,” Garrison said. “Let them know that we love them, God loves them and here’s what they have to do to be saved.”
The food pantry is open to anyone.
“If these people come and they are out of work and this is unusual for them and they’re saying, ‘I don’t know if I’ll get a job between now and next month,’ then they realize this is open to them,” Judy Neal, pantry helper, said. “All they got to do is come to the church and Helen will meet them here, like she said, and open it up and meet that need if they run out of their box before their next paycheck. It’s that easy for them.”
Highland Park offers the pantry to reach the community and do “God’s work,” Garrison said.
“I mean that’s what he put us here for, to reach out to those in need,” Garrison said. “I go back to this verse when I think about stuff like that, ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.’ God takes care of us and he put us here to take care of those in need and those outside of our church, to spread his word, to do his work. That’s what we’re doing.
“… We are doing it for the Lord and that’s it,” she added. “I mean that’s all I do it for is to try to do God’s will. Reach the people outside our church. If somebody in our church, if some of the older senior citizens or whatever have a need, we supply that need. That’s just like we went last month when we did the first of the soup handout, we had extra stuff left over so we also took (some) to the senior citizens in our church that were sick. It’s not just for the people outside of the church, we’re trying to help people inside the church also.”
At least three vehicles pulled up Saturday for food. Although that’s not many, Garrison considered a possible silver lining.
“I don’t think anybody is going to come and take advantage of a church if they’re trying to help somebody,” she said. “And when I don’t have a lot of people coming, then that tells me that there’s not a need to supply the food right now. That’s a good thing. It’s a good thing, but it’s here if they need it.”
For more information, contact the church at 865-986-5699.
“It’s just basically for anybody that’s in need, whether it’s first Saturday of every month or next week or tomorrow. It doesn’t matter. Any day, any time,” Garrison said.