A golf tournament was held Saturday at Cherokee Rose Country Club to raise money for the Manna House food pantry, which provides food for needy families in Liberty County. Each year, Manna House volunteers distribute baskets stuffed with turkey dinners for Thanksgiving and holiday meals for Christmas.
Every year, the food pantry gets its turkeys from Savannah’s Second Harvest food bank for pennies on the dollar, said Doug Harn, Manna House board member and vice president of Liberty County’s Homeless Coalition.
Second Harvest provides hunger relief for vulnerable community members.
Turkey handouts from Second Harvest will be scarce this Thanksgiving because the roof of their walk-in freezer collapsed last month and much of their food had to be thrown out.
“This has brought an extra burden on us for getting our turkeys,” Harn said. “We are hoping we can raise enough money so we can buy enough turkeys so no one is lacking this holiday season.”
Volunteers from Manna House, which is funded by local businesses and individual contributors, now must buy turkeys at retail price from local grocery stores.
“This will put a big dent in our budget,” said Espeir Flanders, Manna House treasurer. “The biggest need is the holidays, so hopefully we will be able to provide as much as past years.”
The group distributed 338 Thanksgiving meal baskets to needy families last year. The soup kitchen, another program under the Manna House organization, feeds an average of 827 people a month.
Harn said more than 20,000 pounds of food were given out to the needy families last month.
Local food establishments, such as Kroger and Panera Bread, donate rotated food off their shelves to the soup kitchen, Harn said.
“There is a bigger homeless and needy problem in this county than people think,” Flanders said. “People just can’t see it all the time.”
The Manna House was started in the late 1980s when Dr. Whitman Fraser saw a need in the community. The group manages the soup kitchen, holiday meal baskets and provides three days worth of emergency supplies to families who meet income guidelines. They also coordinate a brown-bag program once a month for low-income seniors. Manna House supplies food to those in need while the Liberty County Homeless Coalition helps with financial assistance, Harn said.
“There is a big need for our services in the community,” he said. “These are people who, through no fault of their own, have fallen on hard times.”
Local churches and schools also help by holding food drives during the holidays. Many corporations and individuals donate to the Manna House, which helps sustain them through the year. Events like Saturday’s golf tournament also help fund the group’s mission to feed the needy.
Nineteen golfers attended the tournament to help support the organization.
“It really is a great cause,” said the Rev. Ben Beasley, participant and reverend at Allenhurst Presbyterian Church. “There is a big need for the program out here … much more of a need than they can keep up with.”
Manna House and the soup kitchen are open Monday through Friday for soup and sandwiches. The food pantry is on Commerce Street next to the Hinesville public library.