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With great need to feed, area groups step up help

Monday kicked off National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, and with the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner many local charitable organizations in Halifax County are gearing up to help those less fortunate.

The Serving Hope Food Pantry gave away at least 115 boxes of Thanksgiving dinners on Monday, according to Bonita Nelson, a volunteer with the group since its inception. Each box contained a canned ham or hen and other fixings. 

This is the second year the group has given away boxes, and last year the group gave away 150 boxes during the Thanksgiving holiday, Nelson said. 

“We decided we wanted to make sure everybody had a Thanksgiving meal,” Nelson said. “Nobody should go hungry at anytime, especially not during the holidays.”

It is the Christian thing to do, she said, adding, “We don’t want to see people alone with nothing to eat on the holidays.” 

The pantry is located at the Worship Center, formerly the South of Dan Elementary School building, and started serving the community in January 2012.  

So far this year the group has fed 226 families and given away 900 food boxes. Nelson said on a regular basis the group has over 20 volunteers from all cross the county, all races and religious backgrounds helping to serve the community.  

Those interested in donating or volunteering can contact Cindy Cole, the coordinator, at 434-579-4490, Steven Lloyd who is in charge of volunteers at 434-579-7252 and Nelson who handles the paperwork and makes sure food is available for distribution at 434-222-7366.

Another local organization that will be helping the less fortunate during the Thanksgiving holiday is the Missionary United Soup Kitchen located on Traver Avenue in South Boston. 

This year will make the 10th year the organization operated by Pastor Jean Harris has hosted its annual Feed the Community dinner. 

The dinner is slated for Wednesday, Nov. 27, at the Halifax County High School cafeteria, and plates will be served from 2 to 6 p.m. 

Over the past nine years, the soup kitchen has fed over 20,000 people during this annual event, and Harris said she hopes to feed up to 3,000 this year.

All the food is prepared in the soup kitchen according to health code standards. Harris said she is very lucky to have the youth who are always lined up in the cafeteria waiting to help serve the food.

“I’m very proud of the young people in Halifax County. They’ve got the heart in it,” she said.

She also receives help from various churches including First Baptist Church, Republican Grove Baptist Church and Jeter Chapel. 

Marion Davis is also a big helper with the event, Harris said. 

She said Dr. William Will from the Love Shop Veterinary Clinic also helps with donations for this special holiday event and throughout the year, and Main Street United Methodist Church, which is credited with helping Harris get the soup kitchen started, also contributes to this event. 

The soup kitchen operator also receives donations from the Chastain Home, Food Lion in Brookneal and Supply Line. 

“I really appreciate stuff like that,” she said. “The greatest ones in the kingdom are the servants,” she added referencing Bible scripture.

She recalled one year when a young man came through the line during the event and asked for both string beans and collard greens because he hadn’t eaten in three days. She said the young man’s struggle touched her so much it brought her to tears.

“I had to walk away because I didn’t want him to see me crying over him not having anything to eat,” she said.

When asked why she decided to begin hosting the annual Thanksgiving meal, Harris replied, “It was a vision. I saw hunger in Africa, and then I came back and saw it in Halifax County.”

Halifax County is home to people living below the poverty level, and Harris said she personally knows what’s it like not to have any food on the holidays.

“It is important that we come together as one. There’s only one God, and I am so thankful that he loves me. You’ve got to feed the sheep. That’s what you’re supposed to do and that means minister to people also. I lay hands on a lot of people,” she said.

Harris believes it’s important for her to feed the sheep because she once was in the position of being hungry herself.

In addition to the annual “Feed The Community” dinner held at the high school, the soup kitchen feeds hungry families and individuals 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To volunteer or make a donation to the soup kitchen, interested parties can contact Harris at 434-575-7211.

Another caring local social club, South Boston Women Always Going Places (SWAG), also will be reaching out to those less fortunate this season. 

On Thanksgiving Day they will host a community Thanksgiving dinner at the National Guard Armory in South Boston starting at 1 p.m. The event will last until all the food is gone, said SWAG President Jennifer Majors. 

“We just wanted to give back to the community. I’ve been living here all my life and just felt like we needed to do something,” she said. “We throw away so much food, and there are people out there who don’t have anything. I would want somebody to do this, if it were me. It’s just the right thing to do.”

She said it’s the group’s first year hosting the event, and they hope to feed at least 100 people. 

Over 30 people have signed up to volunteer for the event, and the group has received several food and monetary donations totaling $150 to help cover expenses.

The meal will consist of turkey, ham, stuffing, greens, rolls, vegetables, desserts and other fixings. The group plans to deliver plates to area nursing homes and to those who are sick and shut in also.

In addition to Majors, other SWAG members working on this event include Vice President Wanda Majors, Treasurers Anna Palmer and Lisa Byrd, Event Coordinators Jaime Tutt and Shavia Dixon and Mary Chandler.  

For more information on the event or to volunteer or make a donation, interested parties may contact Majors at 434-471-2047.