• 73°

Holiday pantry drive extended through Dec. 19

THE DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / St. Francis of Assisi/St. Vincent De Paul pantry director Paula Gennaro and Mark Nettles stock food into individually portioned boxes at the church's food pantry Thursday afternoon.

THE DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / St. Francis of Assisi/St. Vincent De Paul pantry director Paula Gennaro and Mark Nettles stock food into individually portioned boxes at the church’s food pantry Thursday afternoon.

“Donations from the holiday food drive always come in handy and are greatly appreciated,” Mark Nettles of St. Francis of Assisi/St Vincent DePaul ministry, said Thursday.

Nettles started a food pantry service at his church close to 13 years ago. In the last 10 years, the local Bank of Brookhaven and Daily Leader Holiday Food Pantry Drive has assisted in this effort.

“It’s a real boost for us,” Nettles said of the annual influx of funds from the Holiday Pantry drive. “It helps us distribute a larger number of food items to the community that needs it.”

On Thursday, Nettles, along with St. Francis pantry director Paula Gennaro and other church volunteers were busy at their food pantry serving the community. Circumstances outside people’s control make services like the food pantry a vital service this year, according to Gennaro.

“There are a number of reasons the food pantry matters this year,” she said. “Food stamps have been cut, and food prices continue to increase. This puts a real strain on families, especially during Christmas time when people are trying to shop for their children and others.

“It’s a lifesaver,” Gennaro continued.

Over the years, the Holiday Food Pantry drive has become representative of the good will and charity of Brookhaven citizens, organizations and businesses in the city, according to Shannon Aker, vice president of the Bank of Brookhaven.

Since this year’s drive began the day before Thanksgiving, contributions totaling $4,725 have come in. Originally scheduled to end today, the drive has been extended to Thursday, Dec. 19, at 5 p.m. to provide greater flexibility for potential donors. The extension will also guarantee that local food pantries will see a larger percentage of donations to share with the community this holiday season.

The total donations at the end of the drive will be divided equally between the recipient ministries. Besides St. Francis, other local food pantries that will benefit include Bethel AME Church, Union Hall Baptist Church, the Greater Hope Foundation and St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.

Monetary donations to the pantry drive can be mailed to The Daily Leader, P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or delivered to the newspaper office front desk. Donations to the Holiday Food Pantry will be listed in The Daily Leader as they come in. Anonymous donations will be accepted as well.

Contributions to the Holiday Food Pantry also can be mailed to the bank, given to the bank cashiers or donated through the drive-through windows.