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Food pantry drive way to help needy at holiday

In a normal year, the food pantry at Brookhaven OutreachMinistries serves 275 families per month.

This is not a normal year.

“Last month, we served around 460 families, and this month we’llprobably serve more than that,” said the Rev. Jerry Durr, directorof the ministry. “This year we’ve seen the most we’ve ever seencome through. Finances are down so much, it’s been tough onChristian organizations trying to help out.”

Durr said the ministry’s food pantry has been helped along in2009 with assistance from churches and other people “stepping up.”Heading into Christmas, The DAILY LEADER and the Bank of Brookhavenare inviting the public to step up as well.

Beginning Friday, the two local entities will kick off theirsixth Holiday Food Pantry drive, a local fundraiser begun in 2003that directly benefits three local food pantries – BrookhavenOutreach Ministries, St. Francis of Assissi/St. Vincent DePaul andUnion Hall Baptist Church.

This year’s drive follows a record-breaking fundraiser in 2008when approximately $8,400 was raised, split evenly among the threeministries to the tune of $2,828 each. Last Christmas’ breakthroughbrought the drive’s six-year total close to $34,000.

This year, more is needed. And more are hungry.

“People are going to need some help who’ve never needed helpbefore,” said Bank of Brookhaven Vice President Shannon Aker.”You’ve got to eat. This is a great way to help people withsomething you know they’re going to need.”

The first help is already there – the newspaper and the bankpaired up and deposited $400 to get the drive under way. Groups,businesses and individuals may donate to the food pantries byvisiting the Bank of Brookhaven at 411 Brookway Blvd. with cash andchecks. Checks should be made out to the Holiday Food Pantry.Donations are money only; no food will be accepted.

All contributors and their donation amounts will be tracked onthe front page of The DAILY LEADER during the fundraiser, and thosewho wish to remain anonymous may do so.

“Last year was a surprising good year, considering the economicconditions. What’s going to happen this year? That depends on thegenerosity of our readers,” said DAILY LEADER Publisher BillJacobs.

All parties involved are aware that the economic recession hasimpacted the givers as well as the receivers, but none are worriedabout it. Times were hard last year, too, and records wereshattered.

“Our competitive human nature leads us to do better,” Akersaid.

Jacobs is counting on Lincoln County’s giving nature – a qualitythat is often remarked on – coming through again.

“Mississippi always has always been known to give, andBrookhaven and Lincoln County reflect that attitude,” he said.