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Pantry fund drive tops $7,100

More than $7,000 was raised in three weeks for the Holiday FoodPantry Fund to help three Lincoln County charities.

St. Francis of Assisi’s St. Vincent DePaul Ministries,Brookhaven Outreach Ministries and the Union Hall Baptist ChurchFood Pantry each received $2,166.67 Tuesday as their share of$6,500 donated by local citizens, businesses and otherorganizations.

Separate checks will be issued later to divide $600 in donationsreceived after the Dec. 15 deadline, said Shannon Aker, senior vicepresident for the Bank of Brookhaven.

The Holiday Food Pantry Fund was designed by the Bank ofBrookhaven and The DAILY LEADER to aid food pantries, which oftenfind their cupboards bare after supporting the needy through theholidays. Money raised during the campaign will assist familiesthrough the holiday season and help restock the pantries for thenew year.

The bank and newspaper traditionally make the first donation tokick off the campaign. Both businesses donated $200.

The largest contributor in the 2006 campaign was Angel’s Atticat $1,000. Anonymous donations made up nearly a third of the totalat $1,895. There were 48 different contributors.

The campaign officially ended Friday with total contributions of$6,280. Bank of Brookhaven Monday rounded the total to $6,500.

“We just wanted to make it a round figure,” Aker said. “I hopewe do this for a long time. Maybe it can even become a tradition insome families.”

Although the campaign deadline was Friday, donations continuedto trickle in Monday and Tuesday to raise the total to $7,100.

“We appreciate the public donating and the Bank of Brookhavenand The DAILY LEADER for sponsoring it,” said the Rev. Jerry Durr,president of Brookhaven Outreach Ministries. “There is a tremendousneed at this time of year.”

This year alone, from January to November, Durr said the foodpantry at Brookhaven Outreach Ministries has distributed nearly 27tons of food to area residents.

“We served 419 people in November alone, and it’s going to getbusier,” he said.

Kayla Cantrell, chairwoman of Union Hall Baptist Church’s FoodPantry Committee, agreed.

“This will be a big help to get us through the winter months,”she said. “We appreciate all the donations.”

The 6-year-old Union Hall food pantry constantly fights to keepits cupboards full, she said.

“You always get more (clients) around the holidays,” Cantrellsaid. “We are a small church and we contribute to the pantry, butit’s the donations that make it work.”

Mark Nettles, a volunteer at St. Vincent DePaul Ministries, saidthe donations should benefit more than 100 families through theholiday season and prepare the food pantry for the months tocome.

“It will help a lot,” he said. “We run a tight budget. Thisshould buy enough groceries for the food pantry for a fewmonths.”

John Lowman, general manager of The DAILY LEADER, said the 2006campaign was the third time the newspaper and Bank of Brookhavenhad partnered with the food pantries. To date, the Holiday FoodPantry Fund has raised nearly $20,000.

The Holiday Food Pantry Fund was created in 2003. The initialcampaign raised more than $7,800 contributed by 76 individuals orbusinesses. More than $5,000 was raised in 2004. The 2005 campaignwas canceled, however, after Hurricane Katrina ripped throughLouisiana and Mississippi and caused extensive damage throughoutthe state.