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Pantries worry about county’s needy families

Central Christian Church’s recent closure of its food pantry has several churches wondering how they will handle the holiday crowds.

Saturday, October 28, 2000

Central Christian Church’s recent closure of its food pantry has several churches wondering how they will handle the holiday crowds.

But for countless needy families to have food this holiday season, more of the fortunate ones need to look inside themselves for the spirit of giving, said the Rev. Jim Cremeans of the Ironton City Welfare Mission.

He said the Thanksgiving holiday season always brings hundreds of families to the mission, but this year, the numbers have increased.

"November is always a big month for us," Cremeans said. "We’re already seeing an increase in the number of people looking to us for help. We project November will be at least double what it usually is."

He said the closure of Central Christian’s food bank is sending many more needy families to the mission for help and limiting what his organization can give out to families.

"We are seeing people we haven’t seen before that are in need," he said. "They are being sent to us to seek help. Many have made mention that they used to go to Central Christian, but now that they’re closed, they come to us."

The mission typically provides food and support to 125 families a month throughout the year, with Thanksgiving and Christmas feeding many more.

"I don’t know what Christmas will be like," Cremeans said. "We generally help over 600 families during that time. Thanksgiving isn’t much different, but this year, we can only hope and pray we get enough help and support."

A small gift to the food bank can bring many rewards, he added.

"We can only offer so much," he said. "Twenty-five percent of our budget goes for food and that’s a big percentage. The rest of our help comes from others who feel compelled to support our cause. This year’s going to be tough."

Workers at the First United Methodist Church’s food pantry say they, too, are seeing an increase.

The Lawrence County Department of Job and Family Services director Buddy Martin said the food bank closure is diverting needy to different locations.

"I think everyone is being affected by it," Martin said. "Our clientele remains pretty steady throughout the year. We have had 18 families that have lost cash benefits from the state, but they have retained their medical and food-stamp benefits."

He also said four of those 18 families have been approved for a hardship exemption, which allows them to continue received cash benefits.

"Two others are pending," he said. "This year, we will be diverting our attention to helping the agencies involved in providing for the needy."