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Union Hall Baptist Church works to feed the hungry

The food pantry at Union Hall Baptist Church is the smallest in Brookhaven, but a woman with tremendous dedication helps sustain it.

Gwen Dyess has run Union Hall’s pantry for a decade, and she serves Lincoln County’s disadvantaged out of a small corner of her church’s fellowship hall.

“It’s a blessing to me to see the smiles and appreciation of the people that we help,” she said.

Union Hall is one of five area churches and organizations which benefit from the annual Holiday Food Pantry Drive, which is a joint effort between Bank of Brookhaven and The Daily Leader.

The money raised will be distributed among Union Hall Baptist Church, St. Francis of Assisi/St. Vincent de Paul, St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, The Greater Hope Foundation and Bethel AME.

Roughly 80 families utilize the Union Hall food pantry each year, and, according to Dyess, a few of the recipients are regulars.

“Some of them are repeat customers,” she said.

Most of the money Union Hall receives comes from within the church, and every contribution makes a powerful impact on the pantry’s ability to feed the community.

“Twice a year, we take up donations for the food pantry, which we call a missions offering,” Dyess said.

But the church welcomes contributions from anyone willing to donate.

“I think you really do get a blessing out of giving back,” she said.

Dyess knows firsthand how much joy serving the community can bring to a willing heart. After 10 years of philanthropy, she never tires of helping those in need.

“When one of these little kids sees a cereal box sitting in their basket and asks if it’s for them, I say yes,” she said tearfully. “They wrap their little arms around my leg. It just blesses my heart so much to make a child that happy.”

14th annual Holiday Food Pantry Drive is underway

In the 13 years, individuals have donated more than $10,000 annually in support of the Holiday Food Pantry Drive.

Supporters have the option of donating anonymously, as a business, as an individual or in honor or memory of someone. The food pantry drive ends Dec. 15.

Contributions are accepted at both The Daily Leader and Bank of Brookhaven. Checks can be made out to Holiday Food Pantry.

Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602, and they will also be accepted at the front desk of the newspaper office. Holiday Food Pantry donations will be published in The Daily Leader as they come in.

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

Story by Trapper Kinchen