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City pantries need donations

And, that’s when the Central Christian Church Food Pantry began expanding its services to help an out-of-work community, said Middleton, now pantry director.

Monday, December 13, 1999

And, that’s when the Central Christian Church Food Pantry began expanding its services to help an out-of-work community, said Middleton, now pantry director.

"We had always had a small one, but then we went into helping in a big way because the need was greater," he said.

With Ironton Iron’s closure looming, the city and its pantries likely will face those needs again.

"In the short haul, they’re still working to get unemployment but, in time, there will be more people coming to us for assistance," said the Rev. Jim Cremeans of the City Mission Church. "When it went down before, it had that effect."

The mission will provide as much food and clothing as it can next year, but with the number of employees facing an uncertain future, it’s impossible to predict if all needs will be met, Cremeans said.

"You take 600 families out of a community like ours and it’s really devastating," he said. "It seemed like such a surprise, because we never dreamed it would happen. Now, the families are what people are worrying about most."

So, it will become more important for the Ironton community to share with one another, Cremeans said.

"There are always those already hurting and hurting bad, but now more than ever is the time to be helpful," he said. "Our minds should be drawn in that direction."

And the foundry shutdown affects the mission’s pantry, too, considering there will be less people working who have always given gifts and donations, Cremeans added.

"In my 33 years, the community’s always supported us," he said. "But you have to take it a day at a time and pray someone else takes up the slack."

Central Christian will help as much as it can, too, with food pantry work in the months to come, Middleton said.

"But we couldn’t carry that many," he said, referring to hundreds more families now who might face barren tables.

"We’re holding our breath hoping for something to work out, but we will be prepared to help as many as we can."

The biggest challenge facing Central Christian’s and other pantries this year is a shortage of donations, Middleton added.

Most people and organizations still donate, but in amounts about half as much as in previous years, he said.

So, with unemployment expected to be high, Middleton urged everyone to remember their neighbors during this giving season.