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Food pantry distributes 20,000 pounds of groceries

Event twice as big as other United Way drives

POSTED: November 16, 2011 9:35 a.m.
Randy C. Murray/

Daniel Brooks, 15 (center), a volunteer with the Faith Baptist Christian Academy’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, carries two grocery bags for Hinesville resident Jacob Robins (right), following instructions from Alan Darsey (left), a CenturyLink volunteer. Brooks and Darsey were among 40 volunteers who helped bag and distribute food Tuesday at the Shuman Center in Hinesville.

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Community volunteers distributed 20,000 pounds of food Tuesday to Liberty County families in need at Hinesville’s Shuman Center.

According to United Way-Liberty Executive Director Jennifer Darsey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded Second Harvest Mobile Food Pantry, coordinated by the United Way, was twice as big as other food drives the organization has had. She said the United Way and other church and civic organizations were trying to raise hunger awareness in the community and that food drives were a great way for volunteers to see for themselves how great the need is in Liberty County.

“We’re trying to see how many bags of groceries we can give away today,” said Darsey’s husband, Alan Darsey, a CenturyLink volunteer who collected food request forms and directed the flow of food bags. “We’ve got frozen chickens, bread, canned and dry goods, which were prepackaged this morning. This is the third of the food giveaways by Second Harvest’s Mobile Food Pantry. We’ve got one more in Walthourville next month.”

He explained that families needing food simply had to fill out a one-page form that asked basic personal information, including name, address and phone number, as well as the number of people in the home, particularly the number of children and seniors. When the form was complete, a volunteer would follow the food applicant to his or her car, carrying two large bags stuffed with groceries.

The nearly 40 volunteers helping with the food distribution and paperwork were both men and women, young and not so young; some, like Daniel Brooks, 15, were teenagers. Brooks and 11 of his classmates volunteered with Faith Baptist Academy’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Taking directions from Alan Darsey, Brooks escorted Jacob Robins, a Hinesville resident who said he was grateful for the food, back to his car with two bags of groceries. As they left the building for the parking lot, LaDona Andrews, a volunteer with the Hinesville district attorney’s office, sought guidance about necessary information on the applicant form from Frank McNeill, Mobile Food Pantry coordinator with Second Harvest.

“We are coordinating for churches now,” Andrews explained. “There is a need for our churches in Midway. We’re trying to help.”

According to Charles Bell, who was supervising the group of JROTC cadets from Faith Baptist Christian Academy, even with the large number of volunteers, the task of bagging and distributing the food was hard but rewarding work.

“We started bagging groceries at 9 o’clock this morning,” he said as he took a break on the bleachers overlooking a gymnasium filled with food and people. “It took us an hour and 45 minutes to get it all bagged up.  And it’ll probably take two hours to pass everything out.”

The drive was scheduled to run from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., but Bell said they would continue to distribute food until it was all gone.

America’s Second Harvest is a local nonprofit food bank that started in Savannah in 1981. It serves 21 counties in Southeastern Georgia with a mission of feeding the hungry and helping communities.

 

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