Local residents and organizations, along with a media group from Nashville, came out on a chilly winter morning yesterday to join with Helping Hands Ministry in holding a food distribution day in the back parking lot of the County Administration Building.
The distribution was sponsored by Second Harvest Food Bank and provided enough food to feed 300 families.
Helping Hands president Tammy Comfort says the ministry is working to help feed local families who find themselves in difficult financial circumstances, for whatever reason.
“We do this to help the people of the community who are in need,” Comfort said. “Whether it’s a lost job, low income — with the economy the way it is, gas prices so high, it just helps out a lot of people.
“We’re giving away $2,500 worth of groceries today,” Comfort continued. “It was open to the public, and we sent out invitations to 250 people.”
Comfort said volunteers came out in force to help unload, bag and hand out food.
“We have Kids of the Community here, I think about 20 of them. My ministry is represented here with about 20, and Walmart volunteers are here, which is awesome,” Comfort said. “We have about 10 or 12 of their employees here, we’re blessed to have them. Walmart donated boxes for the clients to put their groceries in, and donated sacks for the groceries, which is really great. We have Courtney Gray from Second Harvest here today helping us organize this. It’s our first one and we hope to do many more.”
Helping Hands got started in 2006 as a local food pantry.
“We started out really small,” Comfort said. “Just giving away two or three boxes of groceries a month. But it’s grown every year. Last year alone we gave away 566 boxes of groceries. That helped 979 people in Warren County.”
Helping hands has eight members on its board, including Comfort, president; Dennis Hampton, vice president, Eddie Merriman, coordinator of food; Angie Merriman, treasurer; Heather Comfort, secretary; and Lecredia Rutledge, Sherri Qualls and Randy Wanamaker.
Radio talk show host Steve Gill was on hand yesterday with several volunteers from Dreamstime, a community-based stock photography company which is one of his show’s sponsors, to help with the distribution. Gill said tough economic times have reduced the funding for organizations like Second Harvest and his group is working to help pick up the slack.
Gill’s show is broadcast on about 40 radio stations around the country, including WLAC 1510 AM radio in Nashville.
“We figured out Second Harvest Food Bank has lost one truck a month because of lack of funding,” Gill said. “So we’ve taken on, as part of our show, one truck a month we’re going to be doing every month this year. We’ve already got it covered through April. We’re going through our listeners and our sponsors and asking them to step up for one truck a month, so we’ll be able to cover the missing trucks that got lost because of funding.”
Helping Hands Ministry is an official 501c(3) nonprofit organization which is partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank. It can be contacted by mail at 8968 Harrison Ferry Road, McMinnville, TN, 37110, or by phone at 815-9070.