Prior to starting the food pantry, I was an uninformed bystander when it came to those in need in our community. I assumed that their needs were being taken care of and thought no more about it. In fact, I was a bit judgmental toward those who had those kind of needs. I would think to myself, “Why don’t they just go out and get a job?”
As my husband and I stepped into what we feel is the Lord’s leading to start Feeding, Inc. (formerly River Street Food Pantry), we began to see the needy of the surrounding area from a different perspective. We began to know their names, their problems, their hopes, their dreams, and the many reasons that they needed our assistance. Some were single mothers with small children; some were in-between jobs and felt guilty when they asked for help; some were elderly on a fixed income. Some were very sick and were under a doctor’s care or just recovered from surgery. We began to meet the homeless, the alcoholics, the addicted, the abused. We found out that some could not read, some had not finished high school, and some had no electricity or running water. Some were living in their car. Some in a tent by the river.
The answer to “why” people are in these situations is varied and complex. We have had many in tears telling us their story of an alcoholic father who spent all the grocery money on his addiction while his children were left hungry. We, of course, helped his wife and children. Why? Because it was not their fault that the “bread-winner” was not willing to fulfill his role. We had one family who lost everything in a fire; another family had spent so much money on medical bills that there was no money for food. Others were desperately trying to find work, but transportation was a problem and childcare was expensive. The list of reasons was long and most of them had validity.
My heart began to change as I learned to love the needy of our area. Some have felt that food pantries only “enable” people to stay in their situation, dependent on welfare and hand-outs. But our heart is not to enable, but to empower them to rise up out of their present situation, giving them hope for jobs, better education, basic common sense skills, and more. As we hear of jobs, we make that information available to them. We have compiled a list of resources that we give to them that points the way to training and other helps.
Prior to getting involved in meeting the needs of these beautiful people, I sat in my very nice home, comfortably judging them, naively believing all was right with my world. The problem was that my world was small and my perspective limited. Whether you know it or not, Carthage and the surrounding area is teeming with the broken, the addicted, the hungry, the desperate, and diseased. What can you do about it? First of all, be aware that there is a world of hurting people that you probably walk by every day. You can help by volunteering, doing a food drive, donating monthly to this ministry, praying for the needs of others. Call us, we can point you in the right direction if you want to know more.
We are a relational ministry! People are not just numbers to us. They are real, live families who need stable people in their lives. Get involved; your life will change as you reach out to help others.