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Church helps meet community food needs

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Love Your Neighbor Day is a monthly community-focus for World Outreach Ministries in Jemison.

The food distribution day, usually including a hot breakfast, devotional and prayer time, began in March 2019.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry has had to suspend the breakfast and devotional time in the sanctuary but continues to provide food to those in need by bringing it to their cars.

“We’ve always had a heart to do what Jesus told us to do, (and) he said feed the hungry,” Pastor Victoria Werneth said.

Social distancing has not prevented the pastors and volunteers from praying with those who come.

On a typical food giveaway day, the ministry will serve 50 to 65 families, which can be as many 150 people.

“We love to be able to feed people that need food,” Pastor James Werneth said. “We also provide clothes.”

The pastors said it “was an honor” to serve the community.

Liz Blanchard serves as director for the food ministry. She said it is especially needed now because many have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

The food comes from the Sonlight Center food bank as well as donations from Publix and other donors.

A box of food usually includes a mixture of fresh, frozen and shelf-stable foods.

Volunteers come in the night before to prep 50 boxes.

Janice Parsons and her granddaughter Haley Jones are two of the regular volunteers.

“It’s really fun,” Haley said. “We get to help people in need who need food, and we just love doing that.”

Parsons said she has volunteered with the event since October. She said she wanted to become involved “because it helps the community that is in need, and I love to help people. This was an opportunity, so I jumped right in.”

Victoria Werneth said the event is all about showing compassion to the community.

Cars often arrive and line up to get a spot long before the distribution is set to start. Families are given a number, and food boxes are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

“It is really a miracle … that we are able to do what we do,” Victoria Werneth said.

“God provides,” James Werneth said. “… We have had comments from widows, ‘now I don’t have to decide if I am going to eat or get my medications.’ God has worked so mightily. We have had people that have been miraculously healed.”

Victoria Werneth said the ministry is always looking for more volunteers and donations due to the increased need.

The food giveaway is scheduled for the fourth Saturday of each month

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