Donors and Volunteers for Harvest of Hope recognized at special luncheon

Published 3:40 pm Thursday, February 16, 2023

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AMERICUS – On Thursday, February 16, approximately 23 people gathered in the fellowship hall of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on Cotton Avenue for a special luncheon to recognize donors and volunteers of the Harvest of Hope Food Pantry located here in Americus.

Back in 2012, Sonny and Ginger Pinckard began the planning stages for the opening of the food pantry and it opened in June of 2013.

Cindy Williams, Vice Chairman of the food pantry, told the crowd gathered that after teaching school for 30 years, she decided that she would retire in 2013 to get involved with the opening of the Harvest of Hope Food Pantry.

“In the summer of 2012, our son was killed in an accident at the warehouse, so that following school year, I prayed that the Lord would show me some way to serve him because I knew I would have more time once I was retired, and some way to honor our son James’ memory,” Williams said. “They began to make plans for it in 2012 and I heard about the food pantry and I really felt that the Lord was leading me there and He did and I’m grateful for that.”

Williams went on to say that she has been able to work with wonderful volunteers and clients of the food pantry. “They’ve certainly been a blessing to me and I hope I’ve been a blessing to them,” Williams said. “I’m grateful to our Lord for giving me this opportunity.”

: Rosa Sims was also heavily involved in the planning of the food pantry in 2012 and its opening in June of 2013.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Sonny Pinckard, who along with his wife Ginger founded the food pantry, told the crowd that back in the summer of 2012, Ginger had received a phone call from someone at their church wanting to know if they were interested in working with a food pantry. “I told her ‘no’ and so it almost didn’t happen,” Pinckard said. However, Pinckard went on to say that he had a change of heart and decided that maybe he and his wife could do that. He stated that he called the person back and that they had a meeting at the colored hospital for about an hour and a half to two hours.

“At that point, it was the responsibility of the Ministerial Association and they weren’t doing anything with it,”Pinckard said. “They didn’t want to give it away, but they didn’t want to do much with it.”

Sitting here are some of the volunteers and donors to the Harvest of Hope Food Pantry. L-R: Evelyn Terry, Dan Dibbert, Mary Davis, Linda Degelmann, Pat Turner.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Pinckard went on to say that he had gotten tired just sitting around and talking about it and stated that the only way he would get involved in it was if it was a stand alone operation and has its own board to govern it and to keep up with all of the things that are going on. “That’s how it ended up happening,” Pinckard said. “Then through months, we went through one meeting after another, after another, after another…sometimes two meetings a month, sometimes three trying to work all the paper work stuff that was involved.” He went on to say that they got people to come and register and that 152 families registered to come to the food pantry and they were set up to come in alphabetical order into four groups. Pinckard added that around 2016 or 2017, the food pantry was averaging 195 families a week, but when the COVID Pandemic happened in 2020, it just about destroyed the food pantry due to the regulations and fear of people getting too close to each other.

“It has been a difficult task getting everybody back,” Pinckard said. “We don’t know how many people we had on our list died in the pandemic, but we’ve lost a lot of people. I can’t tell you how many people are in the database, but it’s probably in the neighborhood of 4,000 or more at this point,” He continued.

Pinckard closed his speech by saying that it has been a long ride and that he and Ginger have enjoyed it. He stated humorously that this will be the fourth time that he has “quit” running the food pantry, but this time, he said he will be quitting for good and will retire. “I’m almost 85 now so it’s just time for somebody else to enjoy the ride,” Pinckard said. “

Chris Slocomb, the Executive Director for the Harvest of Hope Food Pantry, told the crowd that the food pantry sends out 3,000 boxes of food a year and that they gave out 3,612 boxes of food in 2022. “According to the people of the houses we gave it to, we helped feed about 9,044 people in 2022,” Slocomb said.

Harvest of Hope Food Pantry founder Sonny Pinckard is seen here with his gift for his 10 years of service to the food pantry. Pinckard is retiring from the food pantry this year.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

At the end of the luncheon, Pinckard was given a gift as a token of appreciation for his work in helping found the food pantry and overseeing its operation for the past 10 years.

Under the leadership of the original founders Sonny and Ginger Pinckard, along with Katherine Jones and Rosa Sims, who were with the food pantry from its inception, the Harvest of Hope Food Pantry has fed thousands of people in the Americus and Sumter County community and will continue to do so in the years to come.