As we begin a new year, I am reminded of the many people who walked through the doors at Manna House seeking assistance. Many who were finding themselves at a food pantry for the first time in their lives. I can reminisce on the faces of children, parents and seniors facing tough decisions for their family.
This year I counseled with people going through hardships of losing jobs, dealing with wayward children, debt, bankruptcy, foreclosures, health issues, depression, lack of education, lack of support, lack of transportation and many other tragedies. People were making choices like: “Do I buy food or gas,” “Do I sell my car so I can buy food,” “Should I commit a crime so my kids can eat,” “How much longer until my power is cut off,” “Who can help take care of my child so I can work,” “Where can I get clothes for my family,” or “Do I send my children to live with a relative, so they will have a home.”
When seeing these real choices people face, you begin to realize how blessed you are and how precious life, family and friends truly are.
Manna House has been blessed to have been able to help families facing these choices for the past 20 plus years, by giving food, clothing and assisting with utilities. However this past year, all food pantries saw significant increases in those needing assistance and decreases in the amount of donations of food and money. I am grateful to say this was not the case in Effingham County. Even with the tough economic times, there has still been a beacon of hope through the generosity of people who care.
A challenge was given from F.O.R.C.E. (Food Outreach Co-op of Effingham) to collect food or money for the participating food pantries that were struggling to keep food on the shelves and meet the demand of people needing assistance. Many churches, schools, businesses, clubs and individuals came to the rescue by collecting cans and raising money. The last report showed close to 20,000 food items and $1,415 was donated to the pantries during this special food drive.
Manna House is one of the recipients of all the donations. We are grateful and wanted to express our appreciation for the gifts of kindness. The volunteers at Manna House have been busy over the last month picking up donations, stocking the shelves and making boxes or bags. Many times food was left anonymously, overnight on the porch to be found the next morning. Schools were in competition with each other on collecting the most items. Almost every day I would receive calls of people wanting to make a donation of food, clothing or other items. One donation that sticks out was from Brandon Vinke, a high school student at South Effingham. He personally collected 130 pounds of food and donated the items to Manna House. He submitted a letter stating that he just wanted to help those in need. Just this past week someone dropped off a $100 and asked to remain anonymous. She stated that her mother had been helped by Manna House in the past and she wanted to give back.
With the closing of Our Daily Bread food pantry and discontinuing the S.O.S. brown bag program for seniors in Effingham, we are sure to see a greater increase of people seeking assistance at Manna House. In 2008, Manna House gave away 4,150 boxes of food to people in need. The volunteers and supporters of Manna House need your prayers as we face a new year of opportunity to serve in this community and be good stewards of the gifts of compassion that are given to us.
A special thanks to the generous supporters of Manna House and F.O.R.C.E — may God richly bless you in 2009.
Manna House Director