Already community leaders are galvanizing support to address what promises to be another challenging holiday season for area families.
Nola Love, president of Helping in His Name Ministries, Inc., Food Pantry, said she anticipates a hefty need this holiday season that will require an equal amount of community support.
"The ministry has grown and the challenges became greater since the day I became a volunteer [in 2001]," said Love. "With the economy down, people are suffering in many different ways. The Food Pantry is the Helping Hand and continues to reach out to those families with encouragement, food and prayers that they will make it through the hard times."
More than 10,200 families, more than 34,000 individuals, and nearly 1,800 senior citizens in Henry County were served from January 2010 to November 2010, according to The Food Pantry's Director Lori Miller.
The Stockbridge non-profit received support from more than 30 local schools and several other organizations and businesses a year ago. Schools, churches, and businesses hosted food drives in support of The Food Pantry's mission to address local hunger.
Love pointed to Creekside Christian Academy in McDonough as one example of a school that has taken initiative this year. She said the school started early with its food drive.
Individuals can also contribute by becoming a Proverbs 19:17 Donor, and donating $19.17 monthly. Love said the donor program stems from the biblical passage Proverbs 19:17. The passage reads: "When you lend to the poor, you lend to the Lord, and that which you have given He will repay."
"Lifetime interest is paid daily by the Lord," Love said. "That's my motto."
The Food Pantry president said even small donations help keep the pantry's trucks maintained, its utilities paid, its operations running, and its food on the tables of local families.
"Every dollar and act of kindness makes a difference in some person's life," said Love. She said $5 can purchase up to 31 pounds of food.
While school food drives typically begin in November to address holiday needs, Love and others with the non-profit are planning to kick off the "season of giving" with a "Dinner on the Grounds" celebration.
"Dinner on the Grounds" will be held from noon, until 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 8, at The Food Pantry, 85 Bellamy Place in Stockbridge. The event will mark the non-profit's 21st year of service to the community.
Love said the event will include refreshments, games, and music that are free and open to the public. Proceeds from the event's silent auction and raffle games will benefit the non-profit's efforts.
Also, coming up for The Food Pantry is the 2011 ClubCorp Charity Classic Golf Tournament, hosted by Eagle's Landing Country Club on Friday, Sept. 30.
Love said the tournament is open to the public. It will benefit The Food Pantry as well as the ClubCorp Employee Partner Care Foundation, a non-profit based in Dallas, Texas, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association's Augie's Quest initiative.
Tournament registration -- $75 per player, or $250 per team of four -- begins at 8 a.m., with a "shotgun start" at 9 a.m. To pre-register, visit www.eagleslandingcc.com, or contact Anne Belcher at (770) 389-2000, ext. 117.
To learn more about The Food Pantry, and how to volunteer or donate, visit www.helpinginhisname.org.
Pantry hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 9 a.m., until 1 p.m.; and Tuesday and Thursday, from 6 p.m., until 8 p.m. All clients are seen by appointment only. For an appointment, call (678) 565-6135.