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Donations, volunteers on Bethel’s food pantry wish list

Like baskets holding the loaves and fishes that fed the multitudes, the shelves at Bethel AME Church’s food pantry always seem to hold enough to feed the families in need.

That’s Stanford Qualls’ year-round miracle.

“We have never run out,” he said. “We were always able to give somebody something.”

Qualls is director of the food pantry located in a small, white building behind the church on First Street. It’s a volunteer position — all of the money donated to the pantry goes to secure food to feed hungry Lincoln Countians.

The pantry serves about 175 families per month — that’s about 400 individuals who receive assistance through Bethel’s donations every 30 days.

He’s seen those numbers grow since it started in 2011.

“In the community, in the area, we felt there was a need,” he said. “We started out on a small scale with 40 families. After a few months it was about 80 families.”

The pantry is open to the public on the first Saturday after the first Sunday each month. Those receiving a box must fill out an application, he said.

Volunteers try to give boxes with 20 to 30 pounds of food, depending on the size of the family.

“It’s not a month’s supply, but it’s a help,” he said.

Volunteers are needed that day, but also on the days they get deliveries of food from Southwest Mississippi Outreach Ministry and Mississippi Food Network. They also purchase food from other sources and receive donations from area churches and organizations.

The pantry can also help meet emergency food needs, he said.

To volunteer, make donations or request assistance, call Qualls at 601-748-1977.

The 15th annual Holiday Food Pantry Drive is a joint effort between Bank of Brookhaven and The Daily Leader.

The money raised will be distributed among four area churches and organizations that work to feed Lincoln County’s hungry — Bethel AME, St. Francis of Assisi/St. Vincent de Paul, The Greater Hope Foundation and Union Hall Baptist Church.

In the past, individuals have donated more than $10,000 annually in support of the drive.

Supporters have the option of donating anonymously, as a business, as an individual or in honor or memory of someone. The food pantry drive ends Dec. 14.

Contributions are accepted at both The Daily Leader and Bank of Brookhaven. Checks can be made out to Holiday Food Pantry.

Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602, and they will also be accepted at the front desk of the newspaper office. Holiday Food Pantry donations will be published in The Daily Leader as they come in.

Contributions to the Holiday Food Pantry can also be mailed to the bank, given to bank cashiers or donated through the drive-through windows.