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Food Ministry helps hungry Mount Pleasant neighbors

Last year the Mount Pleasant Food Ministry fed 6,000 people – a record.

“There’s no reason for anybody in the Mount Pleasant school district to go hungry,” said Harry Lassiter, founder of the Mount Pleasant Food Ministry. “Unless they’re on a diet,” he added with a chuckle. “Then that’s a whole different thing.”

And though their numbers are down very slightly this year, Lassiter said that the months of greatest need are yet to come.

“We’ve been blessed” over and over again, Lassiter said, with community support and especially with good volunteers. “Whenever we need somebody, it just happens that we get what we need.”

Cathy Harkey is a new volunteer at the Food Ministry. Retired after 30 years with Philip Morris USA, she was looking for ways to help and knew Lassiter from church.

“I’ve always liked to volunteer,” she said, and “this is a wonderful, wonderful ministry.”

Harkey spends a few hours each week at the food ministry, stocking shelves, bagging groceries and helping people carry food to their cars. It’s a simple thing that gives her a big blessing, she said.

Harkey already has assisted dozens of families

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Jim Russell is another volunteer who knows how it feels to be needed. There’s a “big bunch” of people who need the food ministry, he said, from the elderly to single parents and folks who have been downsized from their jobs. Volunteering gives him a purpose in life and keeps him active.

Russell used to help distribute food but now mostly works in procurement. He meets the bread man, transports food from Second Harvest Food Bank in Charlotte and picks up donations from Food Lion three times a week.

Russell said he likes that he is helping people locally and knowing donations go directly toward feeding people. According to Lassiter, 99.7 percent of the food ministry’s income is used for groceries. Its only expenses are an $18 monthly cellphone bill and “a little postage.”

Lassiter reminisced about starting the food ministry with his late wife, Mary Anna, after they had retired. Nine years later, “The food ministry’s my youngest child,” he joked.

Though he claimed he spends no more than five or six hours a week on food ministry business, “It’s on my mind a lot more than that.

“It’s just what I do,” Lassiter said. “And I hope before I leave this world there’ll be somebody else who feels the same way.”

His advice to people struggling to make ends meet: “Pay the power bill and come get food from us.”

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