By Jason A. Smith
Wesley Way United Methodist Church in McDonough is collecting food and other items to donate to the Helping in His Name Food Pantry in Henry County.
It is one of many churches, schools, daycare centers, and other entities that lend support to non-profit agencies helping to feed the hungry.
Wesley Way church members are on an eight-week cycle, gathering different types of necessities for area families each week.
Pastor Greg Meadows is overseeing an effort which has brought peanut butter, jelly, sugar, flour, canned and boxed goods to Helping in His Name Food Pantry. This week the church is collecting diapers, wipes and baby food to honor of the birth of Jesus.
According to Meadows, the congregation has displayed a true spirit of giving in recent months.
"By bringing focus to the congregation, we're able to fill a bin at the church every week," he says. "We, as Christians are called to care for other people," he says. "That's why this ministry is vital. Also, when we reach out beyond ourselves, we open ourselves up to be blessed in a number of ways."
Other houses of worship in the area have also been active in showing their support for the food pantry.
Jodeco Baptist Church in Stockbridge conducted a donation drive in June as part of its Vacation Bible School (VBS).
Children in the program, many of whom volunteer at the pantry one day a week, collected $400 over a five-day period, according to VBS director Susan Dickey.
"The kids were so excited," she says. "They just couldn't believe that had put that much money into [the project]. But it all added up, with everybody working together."
Dickey adds she and the kids received "confirmation" regarding the decision to donate to Helping in His Name in September, when the food pantry was robbed of several items.
Nola Love is the president of the food pantry. She says the endeavors undertaken by the community, are essential in allowing the facility's continued operation.
"If it were not for churches and other groups in the community giving to us, we could not ... serve the people we are serving," says Love. "We've served more than 35,000 people this year, so the load has gotten heavier. Sometimes it takes two days just to call people back after they have contacted us."
Love says additional donations in 2008 have come from Faith Baptist Church in Stockbridge.