Sonny Pinckard: Volunteers have true servant hearts

Published 10:27 am Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Harvest of Hope Food Pantry began in June, 2013, as a faith ministry, trusting God to provide through churches, organizations, businesses, as well as individuals, providing those things, whether it be money or goods, or both, which enable us to fulfill our ministry.  God is faithful.
In this ministry we serve God, but we minister in the name of the people of Sumter County. We realize that this is an awesome responsibility. We seek to represent God to the community we serve.  We talk about being servants all the time but this is not always easy. However, in every situation we seek to communicate Christ in all that we do. This was very obvious to me recently when we had a special chicken give-a-way. Distributing food on Tuesdays, we have had extreme weather: heat and cold and even a few sprinkles of rain. But on that particular Tuesday (the last Tuesday in July) it rained as hard as I have seen it rain in a long time. In order to get their chicken that particular Tuesday, the clients only had to walk by the door and present their ticket entitling them to the chicken. The pouring rain began about the time that we started giving out the chicken, so the first few people in line got wet. However, after that our volunteers took over. In the rain, the volunteers went out to the client’s cars, got their tickets and gave the people their chicken. Many of them stood in the rain so that the clients did not get wet. (You should have seen one that created a cute hat out of a Food Lion bag to keep her hair dry.)  One young man took off his shirt and shoes and served people in their cars. I do not think there was a single one of our volunteers who did not end up getting wet. I am always proud of our volunteers, but I have never been prouder of them than when I saw them standing in water and pouring rain serving people. Jesus said we as Christians are to be servants. I have said it over and over that we have the best volunteers of any organization.  I can only say “thank you’ to each one of them for their service.
As we go around town we meet many of our clients. They seem to think we know the date they are suppose to return to get their food.  Of course, it is impossible for us to know the date they are suppose to come back.  At each visit every client is given a reminder slip that tells the earliest date that they can come back. Sometimes people even call us at home for this information. Recently a lady called and told Ginger that she had lost her return slip and did not know when she was to come back. Of course, we did not have that information at home. The lady said, “I do not want to miss my turn. I enjoy every bit of what I get. I use everything I get. I am so blessed.” That is a message we get very often. We had an interesting think happen recently. A man brought a plastic bag of canned goods and left it with a volunteer. The volunteer brought it to me, saying: “A man brought this and said ‘It is spinach.’” He said that he did not eat spinach and brought it back because he did not want to throw it away. I know spinach is good for you but I understand the gentleman because spinach is not good to me either. We have given out a lot of spinach lately because Second Harvest has not had a lot of variety of canned vegetables for a number of months.
We have completed the August distribution which turned out to be the smallest number in several months. We do not know why. But we do know that as the year comes to a close the numbers will pick up each month. December numbers are always the highest numbers of the year. The higher numbers generally continue through the first quarter of the year before the numbers begin to drop. However, whatever the numbers, we are prepared for every client who visits the food pantry. We can never predict the number because some individuals come every four weeks while others come only if they have a need. At times we have people come who haven’t been to the food pantry in a year or longer.
We thank each of you who have helped us this year. It is because of you that we have been able to continue to operate in your name.  We thank Food Lion for their continued support. Come and visit us. Come on a Tuesday and we will put you to work.
God bless.

Sonny Pinckard is executive director, Harvest of Hope Food Pantry in Americus.