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Thanksgiving comes a week early for some

SELMA —Mike Mason, controller at Yeargan Construction Co., was in charge of an important job Thursday at the Miller Childers Food Pantry.

He opened the door for more than 300 hungry folks carrying 8-pound bags of canned food and a 4-pound chicken, an early Thanksgiving gift from the Christian Outreach Alliance, which sponsors the feeding ministry.

“I also get to say ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ to everyone,” said Mason, one of several employees of the local construction company lending a volunteer hand to the weekly pantry food ministry. Though he had never been there before, he was amazed at the program and its impact in helping feed the hungry, especially during these tough economic times.

“This is the most folks we’ve ever had,” said Miller Childers, of the 328 households fed by the pantry program this week.

The Food Pantry averages 200 bags on a normal week and a qualifying individual or family can get two bags a month.

“It really helps me out,” said senior Thelma Richardson, who has been coming for about six months. With two grandchildren to feed when school is out, “this will help me prepare a lot of lunches.”

Yeargan Construction Company answered an “electronic call” via email for help during the busy week ahead of Thanksgiving. Most had never volunteered for the pantry before, but plan to return.

“It’s a wonderful thing they have going for the community,” said Virginia Roberts, administrative assistant for the construction firm. “It’s my first time but it won’t be my last,” she said while bagging groceries. “If ever someone volunteers, they will come back.”

The food pantry was blessed with a visit earlier in the week from students involved with Men In Motion from Edgewood School. They brought canned goods from a food drive and heard about how the Christian Alliance formed and operates. It is a coalition of four downtown churches—St. Paul’s Episcopal, First Baptist, First Presbyterian and Church Street United Methodist—who are following Christ’s call to feed the hungry, said Judge Childers. Through church donations, school food drives and an active volunteer force, the pantry fills bags every Wednesday and distributes them every Thursday to those who qualify. The pantry is closed on Thanksgiving Day.

A sign on the wall affirms their mission: “You are a child of God and this is our gift to you. May the grace of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always.”

“We are seeing a big increase in hunger in Selma,” said Nancy Bennett, who helps coordinate the pantry—as a volunteer. In fact, the COA has no paid administrators and depends entirely on volunteers living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “I’m sure our hurting economy and job losses have meant empty stomachs for many families and seniors, she said. “I’m so thankful we are able to serve the needy in our city and county this vital way.”

Volunteers and food donations are appreciated, as are financial gift. All donations go to buy food and keep the building operational. No one gets a salary. “We believe in the importance of serving as Christ’s hands and feet to the poor,” Judge Childers said. “Words only go so far.”

For more information, contact Judge Miller Childers, P. O. Box 688, Selma, AL 36701 or Nancy Bennett, 874-6600.