St. Matthews Episcopal Church and Second Baptist Church have established a ministry that they hope will grow in the community.
St. Matthews has built a blessing pantry at the corner of St. Matthews Street and Knox Road. The pantry contains non-perishable foods and is intended to help those who need it.
“The pantry was a vision of our minister, Father Lee Winter. We want to help the hungry in our community. If you need something, take it; leave something if you can. Anyone in the community can donate if they are led,” said Greg Cooper of St. Matthews.
Cooper said that the pantry came about from a desire of church members to help the community.
“So far it has been successful, and we are hoping that other churches will do the same. We want to let the people know that it is there,” Cooper said.
Winter echoed Cooper’s sentiments.
“We hope the community will use it and it will be a blessing. I am thrilled to be a part of it,” Winter said.
The idea of the blessing pantry came from another built by Second Baptist Church.
According to Pastor Donald Self, church members Michelle and Francis Kelleum got the idea from an online post for a food box, and then had the idea of adding coats to the box. Currently the box contains nonperishable food and health care items, with the intention of adding school supplies when the new school year approaches.
“We make sure that we have items that cannot be tampered with, and we go through the coats periodically to ensure that they are in good condition. The Lord wants you to give your best, and we weed out things that are not appropriate,” said Self.
Built by one of the deacons of the church, Chris Dees, the blessing box is in a well-lit spot, with no cameras, no questions asked, and has already been utilized a great deal.
“We know it’s being used because of the change of food in it. Our church already had some outreach going in the neighborhood, such as free movie night, and this is an extension of that outreach,” said Self.
Self and Cooper said they each hope the idea of blessing boxes or pantries will spread.
“We are encouraging other churches to do the same. It would be great to cover the county, even in the rural areas,” said Self. “There are certainly times that a meal would get families out of a bind, and often people need a warm coat.”