Local food pantry helping many every day

Candy Waite, director of the Gospel Mission Food Pantry (GMFP), is provided a statistical report at the close of the day each Wednesday, the official day for food distribution. This week, the GMFP provided food for 41 single parents, 38 disabled guests, 19 guests over age 65 and 128 children. Certainly, 128 is a very big and very wonderful number! Wednesday, June 12, was a wonderful day for many families searching for help.

Since June 1, the pantry has provided food for slightly over 100 single parents. Two hundred forty-four children have departed the pantry with food.

According to Waite, the food pantry provides her with so many wonderful, yet heartbreaking stories. Tough as it sounds, GMFP stories are the very ones that so many of us “run from” due to the pain involved. They are stories that go well beyond numbers and statistics. That’s the way it is with those agendas that require “God’s immediate blessings.”

Recently, her work was slightly more emotional than others have been. Waite and her crew walked with a seventh-grader, a 12-year-old and an eight-year-old by themselves through the pantry’s food line. Each came to the pantry alone. Each had a smile when departing the pantry. The “seventh-grader” studied each and every food selection with the greatest of care … it had to be done correctly. In this case, Waite told the young man, “you were very wise in your selections as you carefully thought about each family member.” His smile was wide and his food sack was full. This was God’s plan.

The week was full of surprises and it certainly included those who always need help.

For the sake of anonymity, let’s talk about “Jake’s” story. Two or three days a week, Jake walks two miles to “say hello and get a bowl of soup.” His health is poor and his stomach is empty. Jake talks very little, but his smile says “a thousand words.” Tomorrow or the next day, Jake will be back and that’s “simply OK” with GMFP folks as hot soup and a smile eases a lot of pain for Jake.

In our world today, we label folks according to race, age or sex. At the GMFP, a different set of labels is used. Labels like … we give food that can be microwaved to the elderly, Bible verses and easy to digest food to the sick, and big bags of food to seventh-graders who come to the pantry alone and scared.

So what do the doors at the pantry say? Just “C’mon in and tell us of your special needs.”

For those of you who are so inclined, come visit the pantry and say hello. If you can, bring along a can of tuna, some spaghetti, peanut butter or cans of soup. Yes, there is a need for the GMFP to ask for help. Please “help us help others.” Government assistance does not come our way because of our strong inclusion of God in our food and clothing distribution processes.

As Candy Waite would say … God Bless Ye, John 3:16.

Bob Springer