Food pantry drive sets new record

Published 7:00 pm Saturday, December 24, 2011

For the second year in a row, records havebeen broken.

    The DAILY LEADER and Bank of Brookhaven Holiday Food Pantry Drivebrought in $11,153 in donations for local food pantries, the mostever collected in the eight years of the food drive.

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    The 2010 drive set the previous record with $10,200 in donations,easily surpassing the prior record of $8,400 in 2008.

    DAILY LEADER Publisher Bill Jacobs said the back-to-back recordsshow the generosity of residents throughout the newspaper’sreadership area of Lincoln, Lawrence, Copiah and Franklincounties.

    “The willingness to help those in need in these tough times is atestament to the type of community we live in,” Jacobs said.

    Bank of Brookhaven Vice President Shannon Aker agreed as to theimpressiveness of another recording-setting year.

    “That’s great,” Aker said.

    The money was divided equally between food pantries at five localministries and aid organizations: Union Hall Baptist Church, St.Francis of Assisi/St. Vincent DePaul, The Episcopal Church of theRedeemer, The Martha Sykes Widows and Orphans Center and TheGreater Hope Foundation.

    The DAILY LEADER and the Bank of Brookhaven began collectingdonations Nov. 23. The amount of local contributions meant eachpantry received $2,230.60.

    Recipient pantries expressed gratitude for the area’sgenerosity.

    “We appreciate The DAILY LEADER and the Bank of Brookhaven and thepeople of Lincoln County,” said Gwenn Dyess, organizer of UnionHall’s pantry.

    Dyess agreed with Jacobs that the food drive reveals the nature ofthe local community.

    “Brookhaven is a good place to live and there are good-heartedpeople in the community and I am glad to be a part of it,” Dyesssaid.

    Dyess said the Christmas-time contributions are of particular valueto the participating pantries because those pantries do not havemany sources of funding or grants.

    “It’s a great help to us because we are a small pantry,” shesaid.

    The money comes at a good time.

    Dyess said Union Hall’s pantry has donated food to 18 people so farin the month of December, higher than in Decembers past. Shelveshave been restocked, but they won’t remain that way.

    “Come January or February, it will hit us again,” she said.

    Union Hall Baptist has participated in the food drive before,giving Dyess some expectation of the outcome. Other pantries had nosuch expectations.

    “I really didn’t know how much it would be,” said Ethel Richardson,director of the Martha Sykes Widows and Orphans Center.

    Her organization was a first-time recipient of the food drive fundsthis year, along with The Greater Hope Foundation and The EpiscopalChurch of the Redeemer.

    Richardson said her organization’s involvement proved to be asuccess.

    “It certainly exceeded our expectations,” Richardson said. “Thatwas a blessing.”

    Richardson said the money will enable the center to buy food usedin its meals on wheels program.

    The DAILY LEADER and the Bank of Brookhaven began the food pantrydrive nine years ago, and except for 2005 when Hurricane Katrinastruck the Gulf Coast, it has been an annual tradition for the twobusinesses and Lincoln County.

    In the eight years the food drive has been held, local residentshave contributed $62,234.