A little over two and a half years ago, four young men saw a need in their community and set out to meet it. As a result Bruce Butler, Terry Lee, Norman McPhail and Randy Barker established the Christian Food Bank of Salemburg. Since its humble beginnings, the food bank has grown tremendously, and during the months of November and December will have fed over 750 families.
But the ministry has expanded in other ways, too. On Saturday, Dec. 8, the volunteers will distribute toys to the clients that have been coming to the food bank. The regular monthly food distribution will take place the third Saturday, Dec. 15. And, for the first time, the food bank will provide a hot meal for anyone wanting to come on Christmas Day. This is uncharted waters for the group but they said they are all excited about being able to provide a special blessing to those in need on Christmas day. One other outgrowth of the food ministry has been the planting of a new church that started just three weeks ago.
Lee shared that the group of men saw a need that people in their own community were doing without and they prayed about it and were led to establish the Christian Food Bank of Salemburg.
“Our pastor here at Zoar, Randy Barker, had some experience with working in food banks and he was very helpful in getting us started and continues to help us as we have grown. That first food distribution, we fed 147 families. Now we are serving more than 750 families at our monthly food distributions,” explained Lee.
“We currently have over 3,000 different families in our data base. We are not a part of any government program so we do not require lengthy paperwork in order to receive food. We use a simple short form so we can account for the food we get from Second Harvest. It also gives us a data base to know who and what the needs are,” added Lee.
McPhail stated that when they first began the food bank ministry, they went out and asked other churches to help support the ministry. That is not the story today.
“When we first started, we would ask other churches to join us. Now over 13 churches of various denominations and races are a part of the ministry. It is truly a blessing to see what God had done through this food bank,” remarked McPhail.
Lee attempted to list most of the churches that are assisting either with volunteers and food donations or with momentarily. Churches involved include: Zoar, Corinth, Mt. Moriah, Freedom, Salemburg Baptist, Baptist Chapel, Union Grove, Grove Park, Mingle Hill, Peniel, Shady Grove and Piney Grove Baptist Church as well as others.
“We are truly blessed to have churches coming to us wanting to help. The youth come in on Wednesday nights before the distribution and fill bags will staple items such as pasta, canned vegetables and other non-perishable items. Then on Thursday, the senior citizens come in and fill the bags with bread items. It is amazing to see so many different people come together in service to God to help others,” asserted Lee.
Lee also expressed the food bank’s appreciation to its major corporate sponsors, House of Raeford, Star Telephone, Martins Meats and South River EMC.
McPhail explained that the group had heard many of their clients coming to the food distribution say that they did not have a strong family situation and many of them would be alone on Christmas and many would only have a sandwich or something similar to eat.
“We just could not bear to think that these people would be celebrating Christmas with only a sandwich and being alone on this special day. Many of our clients are senior citizens and do not have an opportunity to go somewhere to be with other people for the holidays. We are expecting from 200 to 250 people to attend,” expressed McPhail.
Lee also wanted to express the food bank’s appreciation to William and Laura Goodrich, owners of the former Laurel Lake Restaurant, for allowing the group to use the restaurant for the Christmas day event.
“The Goodriches have been so gracious to donate the use of the building for us to cook our first hot meal and have a place to feed all those who come,” said Lee.
The meal will be served on Christmas day,starting at 4 p.m. and contining until around 5:30. Lee shared that following the meal, there will be a program starting at 6 p.m.
“Hopefully the volunteer youth will take part in the program. We are just hoping for a festive and a great time of Christian worship and fellowship. The meal will be more than just the traditional Christmas meal with ham and all the trimmings. We are also planning on serving hearty food such as stew beef and other offerings as well,” cited Lee.
From toys to
a new church
For the toy give away this Saturday, Lee shared that the food bank had already received between 300 and 400 new toys and some gently used ones to give away.
“We try to provide at least one toy per child. It is such a blessing to know that some child will have something special for Christmas. This is just another blessing we received by doing what God requires of us,” stated Lee.
Lee shared that during the winter months each time they distribute food on the third Saturday of each month, they provide free coats to anyone in need of a warm coat. “We ask the clients if they are in need of a coat and we try to provide them for them,” said Lee.
McPhail and Lee each shared their excitement at the birth of the new church that has been planted at the Food Bank building.
“Three Sundays ago we held our first service. We had 37 people to attend and we had a wonderful experience. It has grown each Sunday,” expressed McPhail. “I had a vision that we needed to do more than what we were doing already to feed the spiritual hunger of our clients. The church is such that anyone who wishes to attend may do so and hopefully feel comfortable to come as they are. I suppose they could come in their PJ’s if they wanted to. We just want them to have a place where anyone is welcome and experience a comfortable place to share in Christian fellowship. It has been a blessing to see such outreach as this ministry continues to grow,” asserted McPhail.
Lee explained that services were held a 8:30 a.m. until around 9:30 a.m. which allows the volunteers to go their own churches for worship.
“We don’t ask anything of anyone who attends. We do not take an offering. We are attempting to provide a place where some might not feel comfortable at more established churches. We don’t try to preach any denomination, we just try to the provide Christian message to all who come. We sing, we hug, we do what we can to show God’s love to others. The youth have come out and helped to provide music for worship. It is really a blessing,” stressed Lee.
The food bank provides coffee, doughnuts and muffins for the worshipers each Sunday also.
“We are so blessed ourselves. If we did not do what we have been led to do by God, we would be sinning. People are always looking for a purpose in their lives. I think we have found our purpose in sharing God’s bounty and love through the ministry of the Christian Food Bank of Salemburg,” remarked Lee.