Food, clothing giveaway grows in second year
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 22, 2013 1:50 AM
Sasha Nunez, 12, tries on a jacket with the help of Yvonne Pantoja during the clothing giveaway at St. Paul United Methodist Church Saturday.
Hundreds turned out Saturday morning for Christmas in the City, a free food and clothing distribution at St. Paul United Methodist Church.
This is the second year for the pre-holiday giveaway, launched last year by a Goldsboro college student with a desire to give back to the needy in her hometown.
Georgia Tanner, now a senior at Wake Forest University, admitted mid-morning that she was "overwhelmed," but not by the bevy of activity around her as much as the outpouring of volunteers and donations that contributed to the event's success.
"It's such a blessing to see how it's kind of transformed, blossomed," she said. "Just to walk in this morning and see things before it even started.
"It just shows me how amazing God is. I'm not even here (and) somehow it all comes together."
Melissa Harrell, who serves as mission coordinator at St. Paul with her husband, Johnnie, said the effort has definitely grown, recalling how the first year they "almost had to go out in cars to bring in people."
This year, though, word had obviously gotten out.
"When we came to start at about 7, there were 40 people waiting," she said. "We've had well over 200 (by 10 a.m.)."
Multiple volunteers, from St. Paul as well as other churches and organizations in the community, partnered together by eliciting donations and supporting the event.
The Lord's Table had collected winter coats and other items, showing up with a contingent of volunteers, including Al Jones, Chris Ramsey, Duane and Belinda Banks, Craig and Diane Wolfe, Diedrik Lewis and Don Lewis.
Banks, Lord's Table outreach pastor, offered a quick tour of the layout, which started with a pancake breakfast when folks arrived.
The next station was the clothing area. Tables held piles of clothing items, separated by categories -- men's, women's and children.
"Fill up your bag" was the only requirement given to those who came through the line, Banks said.
"We let them go through the clothes," Mrs. Harrell said. "We also give them boxes of food on the way out. A Gideon (representative) gives them a Bible."
She called it an "incredible" experience.
"This has really been an across-the-denominations effort," she said. "It's brought other churches, like First Baptist, just across the street, which donated coats and clothes, The Lord's Table, youth from The Place of Refuge Church, St. Stephen's, multiple churches working together."
Ms. Tanner was also thankful for the many who donated their time to the worthy cause.
"It's really great that we can give back to our community, show them that this is all no-strings-attached -- (to say) we just love you," she said. "So many people just did so many things. It's just truly a blessing."
Rev. Phyllis Vail, associate pastor, took it a step further.
"This has been the biggest blessing from God ever, a gift to us, not for us, to us," she said.
Recipients of the giveaway were also grateful, especially at this time of year.
"I believe it's what Christmas is all about," said Christy Jackson of Goldsboro as she exited the building with her newly acquired items. "It's about giving back to the community, giving people what they need -- warm food, clothes -- because I'm sure there are people that haven't had a good meal in a long time. It means a lot."
Her friend, Danielle Hardy, agreed. She said she was also impressed by the attitude of those she had encountered inside.
"I think as soon as I walked in here, people were not asking for themselves. You didn't see any of the helpers eating," she said. "They were constantly trying to help.
"Giving is one of the biggest things at Christmas."