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Bethel AME Church serves people in need

For seven years, through hard-working volunteers and the generosity of the community, Bethel AME Church’s food pantry has kept families from going hungry during times of need.

Stanford Qualls, director of the food pantry, said they began to collect food when they noticed the difficulties faced by members of their own congregation.

“There were a number of people within the church having problems that we knew,” he said. “We were going to start out small and try to get enough for 20 or 30.”

Lincoln County’s need quickly outstripped Qualls’ expectations. Today, they give food to about 130 families — about 300 to 400 people — every month. Qualls discovered that food security was a bigger problem locally than he’d ever imagined.

“It’s a lot of people,” Qualls said. “You wouldn’t think it’s as many people as it is.”

But Qualls and his team have risen to the occasion, serving the needs of the community. To continue this work, Bethel AME needs the help of the community.

Anyone who wants to donate or volunteer should call Qualls at 601-748-1977.

“We are always in need of good volunteers,” Qualls said.

While donations of food are always appreciated, donating money is the best way to help food pantries. Bethel AME can purchase food in bulk at a discount from the Mississippi Food Network.

Those who find themselves in need of food should come to the food pantry at 712 South First St. and fill out the same form required by the Department of Human Services. But Qualls said the food pantry works hard to serve everyone who approaches the food pantry.

“We try not to turn anybody away without getting some food,” Qualls said. “If they come in and contact us, we will figure out a way to get something for them. Normally, our boxes are about enough to carry a family of two for about two weeks.”

The Daily Leader and Bank of Brookhaven have joined forces for their 16th annual Holiday Food Pantry Drive to help raise funds for Bethel AME as well as two other local food pantries — St. Francis of Assisi/St. Vincent de Paul Ministries and the Greater Hope Foundation.

Supporters of the Holiday Food Pantry Drive 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. 20.

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.