Local food ministries need help from all of us now

Food at the holidays is at least as important as gifts. Big dinners, sweet treats and special dishes made just once a year are all a part of the season, but for many the prospects for a holiday feast aren't so good.

Food ministries in our area are trying to ensure that everyone can enjoy a wonderful Christmas dinner this year, but they need our help to make that happen.

Patsy Street from West Stanly Christian Ministries in Stanfield says that demand for food has never been higher, nor have the ministry's supplies been lower. She's got plenty of canned vegetables, but needs lots of dry goods like crackers, cereal, pasta and instant potatoes.

It's a similar story over at Pine Bluff United Methodist Church in Midland where, according to Pastor Kevin "Bird" McCormac, "We need food." He says their supply is always running short, but the need never does.

The Mount Pleasant Food Ministry will also help people with food for the holidays, and they are encouraging folks to head to St. Stephen's Lutheran Church in Gold Hill from noon to 3p.m. for a Christmas Day feast.

Joy Pinto is the driving force behind the community Christmas dinner, now in its second year. Pinto says that it's much easier to plan the dinner this year since she knows a little more about what to expect.

Just like last year, the dinner is free and everyone is invited. Pinto says volunteers and guests, had a good time last year and she learned that people show up to events like this for all kinds of reasons.

One family came because the matriarch who usually prepared dinner for her family had been in the hospital. All the relatives who came from out of town didn't have time to put together a big meal, so the clan enjoyed dinner at St. Stephen's.

Pinto says she's got a lot of good help lined up for this year's dinner, but she can always use more volunteers and more food donations. She also plans to send out meals to shut-ins and hopes to use any extra monetary donations to offer grocery store gift cards to her guests.

If you want to help any of these ministries feed our neighbors this holiday season, here's what you can do. Drop off donations at West Stanly Christian Ministries Monday through Thursday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., or call 704-888-6406.

To donate food at Pine Bluff United Methodist Church's food pantry, call Pastor Bird at 704-791-4992 to make drop-off arrangements.

The phone number for the Mount Pleasant Food Ministry is 704-436-6113.

If you'd like more information about the community Christmas dinner at St. Stephen's Lutheran, or if you'd like to help with the dinner, call Joy Pinto at 704-668-6638.