11/25/12 — Filling stomachs, clothing backs

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Filling stomachs, clothing backs

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on November 25, 2012 1:50 AM

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Peggy and Dock Phillips are seen in front of the North Carolina Poverty Coalition building on Potts Road in Dudley. The couple, along with sons, Spencer and Jonathan, have established a mission that provides food, clothing and household items for the needy.

If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.

-- Deuteronomy. 15:7.

DUDLEY -- In a small white brick and vinyl building in one of the poorest areas of Wayne County, a single family is helping hundreds of people every week by providing the needy with food and clothing.

The North Carolina Poverty Coalition was created a year ago by Dock and Peggy Phillips, with the stated goal of "uplifting the human spirit."

The Pikeville couple chose the area because of the widespread need they saw. And with little fanfare but a lot of determination, they are making a difference in the lives of many who have come to know hunger and cold as part of their daily existence.

"We're looking for people who have fallen through the cracks," said Mrs. Phillips, noting that many people who don't qualify for food stamps or other assistance nevertheless find it hard to make ends meet.

The coalition consists of the Phillips and their two sons, Spencer and Jonathan, who serve as the CEO and president, respectively, of the 501(c) non-profit organization.

It is an official agency of the North Carolina Food Bank, from which it obtains some of its food. It also gets donations from many area churches and charities. Walmart donated $1,000. So did the Andy's Foundation and other businesses. Mount Olive College students have collected and raised food for the coalition's pantry and many area churches have held yard sales and other fundraisers to donate food, clothing, furniture and other items.

In fact, the Phillipses have collected so much that their biggest need right now is space. They rent the building they are currently using and are having to rent extra space just to hold the goods and materials they have.

"We really need another building," said Phillips. "We're cramped and need more room."

They screen applicants but seldom turn anyone away. The coalition maintains a thrift shop that carries clothing and other household items that are sold for a fraction of their worth. That money is then used to buy more food.

The Phillipses say they have seen an increase in the number of people needing help now that cold weather has placed more of a burden on people, and they hope to be able to accommodate the folks who stop by once a week to get a bag of groceries, which Dock hands out through a step-up window.

They could also use the help of any volunteers who would like to get the feeling of giving something back, which is what the Phillipses say is their biggest reward. The Phillipses, who have time now that they are retired, said they felt the call of God to help the less fortunate.

"Every bit of it has come from the Lord," he said.

They have even had a car donated to them by an Air Force couple that was moving out of the area. The restored '69 Buick gives them a way to haul foodstuffs and other donations, as well as solicit those donations from around the county.

"The more we can get in, the more we can help others," Mrs. Phillips said. "There are a lot of people in bad shape around here."

"If not for the grace of God, it could be us," her husband added.

Donations to the coalition are tax deductible, they emphasized, no matter how small.

For more information, visit the coalition website at www.northcarolinapovertycoalition.org, call 919-766-0616, 919-581-1065 or 919-221-0812, or just go by 309 Potts Road.