As we celebrate the holidays with friends and family, it’s easy to forget that many people are struggling to make ends meet this year. Thankfully, Lake Norman is a community that gives back, and there are many local organizations that provide crucial lifelines to hundreds of struggling families. Sustained by donations and staffed primarily by volunteers, all of those agencies have seen an increase in demand for their services. Here are the area’s soup kitchens and food pantries—and how you can help them this season.
Mooresville Soup Kitchen Vickie Traynum, Mooresville Soup Kitchen’s executive director, considers her facility’s dining room more of a family room, where people come to connect and feel loved. In some cases, the kitchen can even mean the difference between life and death. About three years ago, 66-year-old Mount Mourne resident Joyce Wilson was struggling. Her husband’s employer had moved to China, and their income disappeared. At the time, they were living in a sweltering mobile home and couldn’t afford to pay the electric bill. Wilson was suffering from heart disease and diabetes, and her doctor told her the heat was killing her. They decided to turn to the Mooresville Soup Kitchen, a place where the workers and volunteers provided not only food, but also helped Joyce and her husband restore power to their home. Gradually, their lives have become more stable. “If it wasn’t for this place, I’d be dead,” Wilson says. “I don’t know what I’d do without it.” Like other area soup kitchens and food pantries, the MSK has seen an increase in demand, says Traynum. In a typical year, the kitchen serves about 60,000 meals. This year, they’re on pace to serve more than 100,000. To help reach as many people as possible, the kitchen is launching new programs, including “MSK Markets,” where volunteers distribute freshly prepared frozen dinners at two Mooresville churches. In November, the kitchen’s workers will organize a canned food drive, with a big collection day scheduled for Nov. 23. They’re planning to serve a large meal the day before Thanksgiving at the soup kitchen, as well as a large meal the day before Christmas at a neighboring church.
Mooresville Soup Kitchen 275 S. Broad St., Mooresville 704-660-9010 For details about how to volunteer or make donations, go to www.mooresvillesoupkitchen.com
Angels and Sparrows Sandy Tilley is a woman with a mission. At 71, she works 70-hour weeks feeding the needy of Davidson, Huntersville, Cornelius, and north Mecklenburg. She and her husband, Ted, founded the Angels and Sparrows soup kitchen five years ago, and she says the demand for her kitchen’s services rarely gives her time to slow down. The kitchen serves about 120 meals a day—four times the number it served when the doors first opened. “The best thing that’s happened is we’ve made people in the high-dollar areas understand there are people with nothing,” Tilley says. Maedell Moore is among those who know how crucial the kitchen’s services are. A single mother of three, the former Huntersville resident lost her job several years ago due to a life-threatening illness. Soon, her savings were exhausted and her cupboards empty. Desperate, she visited Angels and Sparrows and “felt welcomed immediately.” “The first day I walked into the kitchen, it was like a load had been lifted,” says Moore, now living in Charlotte. Angels and Sparrows is planning an all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving meal, and on Christmas it will serve bag lunches and give away toys. Last year, they donated toys to 300 children. Any boy or girl who wanted a bike got one.
Angels and Sparrows 514 N. Old Statesville Road, Huntersville 704-918-0122 For details about how to volunteer or make donations, go to www.angelsandsparrows.org
Mooresville Christian Mission Valerie Chamberlain, executive director of the Mooresville Christian Mission, knows there are hundreds of families in the Lake Norman area who have not been blessed by the region’s prosperous growth. “A lot of people don’t understand the level of disparity in our community,” she says. “We hear the economy is getting better, but a lot of people in our area are still not making livable wages and are struggling.” She’s seeing more of those people lately. Last year, the mission’s food pantry gave away an average of 28,000 pounds of food per month. This year, they’re averaging 40,000 pounds. “The needs have gone up so much,” she says. Like other food pantry officials, Chamberlain attributes some of the growing demand to changes in a state computer system that have led to major delays in the processing of food stamp applications. The Mission, which has served the Lake Norman region for more than 70 years, runs a program called “Feed our Children 735,” which refers to the meals needed each year to supplement local students who receive free and reduced lunch at school. Volunteers in the program deliver food directly to children in need. Through its “adopt a senior” program, the mission also distributes food to the homes of elderly residents. From Nov. 10 though 28, the Mission will be asking people to donate turkeys for needy families. They’re also looking for people to make donations of $25 during the holiday season—enough to feed a family of four a complete dinner. They’ll also do a ham drive.
Mooresville Christian Mission 266 N. Broad St., Mooresville Phone: 704-664-2357 For details about how to volunteer or make donations, go to www.mooresvillechristianmission.org
Ada Jenkins Center Those who run the Loaves and Fishes pantry at the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson say they see few signs of an economic recovery. The pantry, which helps families in Davidson, Mooresville, Huntersville, and Cornelius, served 514 people in August—an increase of almost 50 percent over the previous month. Janice Hinton, the center’s human services director, also points to the food stamp delays as a key factor driving the need for additional food. “It’s resulting in food insecurity for people,” she says. “We’re seeing a lot more clients walking through the door.” In November, the pantry’s workers will give out food items needed for a Thanksgiving meal. And in the weeks before Christmas, they will be working with churches and other sponsors to get gifts to some of the children and senior citizens they’re serving.
Ada Jenkins Center 212 Gamble St., Davidson 704-896-0471 ext. 120 For details about how to volunteer or make donations, go to www.adajenkins.org