This ministry provides food and clothing to needy families in our neighborhood. The pantry and clothes closet are open every Thursday from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm. Food is distributed and the clothes closet is open for all to shop. This is also a place where people can come to share their experiences and situations, and sometimes to just fellowship and talk or have prayer. It is funded by contributions made to the Fellowship Fund and Food Pantry Fund and from time to time grants. Bill Finley was able to secure a $1000 grant from Chevron again this year.
Food pantry and clothes closet are staffed by dedicated volunteers.
In 2014, we distributed 2,503 bags of groceries to 650 families, including 70 homeless persons. Some came only once and some every month. On average a family came between 3 and 4 times a year. There were 261 families who visited the food pantry for the first time in 2014. We distributed over 50,000 pounds of food (25 tons) this year – an increase of 6% over 2013. We strive to provide well-packed bags of food each week.
This year about 75% of food we distribute comes from the USDA program. The Food Bank makes an allotment of food based on number of families served. USDA food is picked up on the first Wednesday of each month. One week we picked up almost 4,000 pounds of food. Dan Schumacher has been a real help in organizing volunteers to pick up food on the first Wednesday of each month. Many thanks to Dan and his team for taking on this task. We will miss Dan and his help and welcome Nathan Hatfield who has taken over this task from Dan.
This ministry to the needy could not be accomplished without the help of a lot of volunteers. In 2013, 19 volunteers gave over 1,900 hours of their time to make this ministry possible. Many thanks to our regulars who come most every week – Jerry Spiller, Priscilla Kinchen, Jack White, and Bill and Jean Finley – who serve so faithfully. Hope Nycum joined us this year to help stock the shelves.
Jane Denzler continues to manage the clothes closet, assisted by Linda White, Connie Jones and Brenda Cox. Each week the volunteers sort donated clothes, shoes, etc., hang clothes in designated areas for women, men and children and assist clients in selecting clothes. Items chosen are bagged and toiletries given out if available. An important part of this ministry is to maintain a friendly environment where clients feel welcome and comfortable. Each week, a steady number of clients visit the clothes closet as the word spreads about this ministry. Consequently, we always need your clothing and shoes, particularly for men. Thank you to everyone who donated clothes and toiletries this past year. With your donations, our clients are able to tell us Tabernacle’s Clothes Closet is the best in the area.
If you visit us on any Thursday, do not be surprised if you hear laughter, for it truly is a fun working environment. Every week people tell us what a great thing this church is doing and how much they appreciate what we do and the way they are treated. I think that is what this ministry is about – whether it is getting food, clothing, or just having someone listen. We want people to feel better after coming here. I find every year that the people who serve in this ministry do so because they want to help others. We are still here because there is still a need and because we have people willing to help address the need.
Director, Food Pantry/Clothes Closet Ministry
A little history:
The food pantry started around 1978 by collecting food from the congregation and distributing to people who came to the church. It was actually stored in a pantry.
In 1998 (first year we started keeping statistics) the food pantry began participating in the USDA program. The first year the monthly average was 19 families and 27 bags of food distributed. In 2014 monthly average was 185 families and 209 bags.
In the first 5 years we had about 540 families visit the food pantry. As of December, 2014 that number has grown to 3,682.
The clothes closet began in 1978, and in 1998 it was operating in a 10 ½ by 22 foot room, about 230 square feet. We have expanded the clothes closet space to almost 1,400 square feet.