Volunteers keep First United Methodist Church food pantry

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 14, 2005

It is neighbor helping neighbor with the most basic of needs.

Since 1992, the First United Methodist Church in Ironton has been home to a food pantry that is the collaborative effort of numerous local churches. At least 25 volunteers from the various congregations help sort food items and bag them up to hand out to needy families.

Director Colleen Massey, one of the original organizers of the pantry, said the assistance program had humble beginnings.

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"When we started we had a few shelves in a back room and there were three of us who worked in it," Massey said. "Then we got a bigger room and opened it up to other volunteers."

Bonnie Collinsworth has volunteered at the food pantry off and on for five years. "It's nice to see the faces of the people when they receive help, people who have fallen on hard times and need help. They're very appreciative," volunteer Bonnie Collinsworth said.

The pantry relies on help from local churches, civic organizations and private citizens who see the need within the community and want to help a neighbor. "The Boy Scouts have a drive for us every year, and individuals send us food," Massey said. "We're always open for donations of money and food and we can always use people who want to volunteer."

In November, the food pantry served 153 families, in December the organization helped 124.

Needy families are referred to the food pantry by the Lawrence County Department of Jobs and family Services, The Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization and some of the health care facilities in the area.

The pantry also gives away clothing and blankets from time to time. It is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. until noon.