Union Hall food pantry’s reputation growing

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Union Hall Baptist Church Food Pantry was only created sixyears ago, but has quickly gained a reputation for quality andcompassionate service.

“We try to meet the needs of our church family, but there’s alot of people not in churches that may need food and we try toanswer that need when we see it, too,” said Kayla Cantrell,chairman of the food pantry committee.

The Union Hall Baptist Church Food Pantry is one of three localfood pantries which will benefit from community charitable effortsthrough the Holiday Food Pantry Fund established by The DAILYLEADER and the Bank of Brookhaven. The deadline to donate to thefund is Friday.

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Money raised during the campaign will aid food pantries at St.Francis of Assisi/St. Vincent DePaul Ministries, BrookhavenOutreach Ministries and Union Hall Baptist Church.

Donations to the Holiday Food Pantry Fund may be made by anyone.Donations will be recognized daily in the newspaper. They can bemade in honor of a friend or loved one or can be madeanonymously.

“Anonymous gifts are welcome,” said Shannon Aker, senior vicepresident of Bank of Brookhaven. “The gift will still be published,but it will be labeled as anonymous. It’s a great way to rememberpeople during the holidays.”

“And it serves a desperate need in this community,” added BillJacobs, editor and publisher of The DAILY LEADER. “It could not bedone without the generous contributions of the community.”

Checks to the fund should be made payable to the Holiday FoodPantry Fund and will be accepted at either the bank’s BrookwayBoulevard location or at the newspaper office on North RailroadAvenue.

“It’s a big portion of our budget during the winter months,”Cantrell said. “You always get more (clients) around the holidays.We are a small church and we contribute to the pantry, but it’s thedonations that make it work.”

Area churches and charitable organizations also regularlycontribute food and hygiene items collected in local drives, shesaid.

Under normal circumstances, the pantry typically only servesLincoln County residents, but the pantry greatly expanded itsservice area last year in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Not only was food distributed to people devastated by the stormin Franklinton, La., but the church also took in evacuees. Nearly15 families in travel trailers set up camp in the church’s parkinglot and were fed from the pantry, she said.

A Katrina recovery grant helped the pantry expand itsoperations.

“We furnished a lot of food to some other area shelters here aswell because of that grant,” she said.

The Holiday Food Pantry Fund was created in 2003 and raised morethan $7,800 contributed by 76 individuals or businesses. More than$5,000 was raised in 2004. The 2005 campaign was canceled, however,after Hurricane Katrina ripped through Louisiana and Mississippiand caused extensive damage throughout the state.