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Groups keep church food pantry doors open

When the food pantry at First United Methodist Church closed last week because it ran out of food, some area groups responded by opening their collective hearts.

Food pantry volunteers hope the giving continues so the organization can continue to help those in need.

On Saturday, the church’s Boy Scout Troop and Cub Scout Pack 104 had its “Scouting for food” drive and collected more than 2,500 food items.

First Presbyterian Church asked for canned goods from the patrons at its pancake breakfast Saturday and the congregation of the Methodist church agreed to contribute extra money Sunday.

There have been donations from individuals as well. These donations enabled the pantry to open to needy families Monday.

But pantry volunteers are keeping a close watch on the shelves and hope generosity increases in direct proportion to requests.

“We have enough for now, but the problem has been that this year, we’ve seen an tremendous increase in the number of clients who need to be served,” First United Methodist Church member John Milar said.

He has a point: In August, the number of people asking for help increased 78 percent compared with the number needing help in August 2006.

Food pantry director Colleen Massey said recently, the number of requests for help has leaped to 400 households monthly— usually that number is between 200 and 250.

“We’ve been getting a lot of new people coming in,” Massey said. “It’s increased a lot.”

Massey said $3,000 is needed monthly to meet requests for assistance.

Carolyn Burwell, who is cub master to cub scout pack 104, said she was thrilled when she saw the amount of food people had left on the their doorsteps Saturday for scouts, parents, scout leaders and other volunteers to collect.

“It makes you feel so good when so many people are so generous,” she said. “I can’t get over how many people helped us. And I appreciate all the people who came to help us collect the food.”

Donations of either money or food items are welcome.

The food pantry is open 9-11 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.