Food pantry keeps serving needy

Published 7:32 pm Thursday, December 15, 2011

About a dozen volunteers, including MarkNettles and Barbara Breaux, are lending their support for acommunity-wide food pantry at the St. Francis of Assisi/St. Vincentde Paul ministry.

    Nettles, who has led the food pantry at St. Francis of AssisiCatholic Church in Brookhaven for decades, will step down from theleadership position after this season’s drive and hand it over toPaula Gennaro, another member of the church.

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    “St. Vincent de Paul is a worldwide ministry, but we just do thatjob in this county,” said Nettles, a practitioner who has seen thesuccess of local support for years.

    The food pantry is one recipient of The DAILY LEADER and Bank ofBrookhaven’s Holiday Food Pantry Drive. Local residents mayfinancially contribute to the drive at either business up untilDec. 16.

    Other recipients include Union Hall Baptist Church, the EpiscopalChurch of the Redeemer, the Martha Sykes Widows and Orphans Center,Union Hall Baptist Church and the Greater Hope Foundation. Thetotal proceeds will be split among the recipient food pantries.

    At St. Francis, appointments are set up on Tuesdays and Thursdaysfor clients to receive donations of canned goods and other pantryitems.

    Nettles said it’s rough on local workers like painters, buildersand loggers – especially during this time of the year.

    “Winter time is definitely the worst time of the year for thembecause a lot of the people work outside and the weather is bad,”said Nettles.

    Nettles was appreciative of the support the food pantry ministryreceives.

    “It’s hard sometimes to find volunteers, but we have a good bunch,”he said.

    Among the bunch, Nettles highlighted a group of members who haveprovided exceptional assistance, including Merle and Becky Bowmanand their son Brandon.

    “I couldn’t imagine getting it done without them,” saidNettles. 

    The process of restocking on goods starts when Becky Bowman makesphone calls to local grocery stores in search of the best deals.Depending on the store, orders have to be gathered by hand or canbe placed for pickup at places like Piggly Wiggly.

    “You all are going beyond the duty today,” said Nettles as Brandonand Merle Bowman unloaded donations from the bed of their whitetruck Wednesday.

    The father and son team work together to rotate materials for theirchurch during the holiday seasons. Once the items are retrieved,the Bowmans later place them in a small warehouse forpackaging.

    “People like Barbara Breaux come in and put it [pantry items] onshelves, then place them in bags and boxes,” saidNettles. 

    According to Breaux, the work she and the volunteers partake in isnecessary and is the mission of their church.

    “We do it for them because in them we see Jesus,” said Nettles. “Weanswer Jesus’ call for the least of these.”