With Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, a local church challenged its youth to bring in food donations to give to those in need.

More than 25 youth group members from Prescott Baptist Church, located on the fringe of Pell City at 20 Turtle Rock Road, took the challenge straight to heart in hopes of delivering food to the stomachs of the hungry.

“We started collecting canned goods (and other food items) about a month ago and concluded the drive (Sunday),” said Carla Mooney, who teaches children ages 2-11 at the church. “We made it a competition between our older and younger youth group members. They asked their parents if they could bring in some food for the drive. (We collect) the food for someone in our community who we know might need it, or we give it to a member of the church who may be going through a hardship of some kind.”

The group’s efforts yielded two full boxes containing roughly 24 cubic feet of food, ranging from canned goods to pastas and condiments, and while there was no decided winner to the competition, the students’ desire to give to their community no doubt deserves honorable mention.

“I know when I was growing up, (events) like this taught me how important it is to help people who may be in need because you might find yourself in a spot where you might need help,” Mooney said. “It also teaches them the value of food. There’s not much value in material things, but we all have to have food to survive.”

Mooney’s daughter Arieal, a junior at St. Clair County High School, said she enjoyed the experience of giving.

“I love helping people,” Mooney said. “I do it all through Christ. I just know that one day I’ll (be blessed) myself by helping others.”

Bridgette Bailey, a sophomore at Pell City High School, discussed why it was important for her to give.

“We need to be proud that we have food here that we can give to those who might be in need,” Bailey said. “They need food just as well as we need food. They don’t need to starve and no one needs to go hungry.”

As eager as the older group were to contribute to the cause, the elder Mooney found it hard not to notice third-grader Nate Dutton’s Samaritan spirit.

“He (did) a good bit of bringing,” Mooney said. “He made a big deal out of it to his parents in making sure he brought (donations) for the food pantry.”

Currently home-schooled through Crossroads Christian School in Moody, Nate took a break from snacking on the pizza provided by the adults for a job well done to explain why he participated in the food drive.

“(I wanted to give) because there’s some people out there who don’t have as much food as I do,” Dutton said.

Nate’s mother, Angie Dutton, commended his son’s drive and motivation as well as the other youth who contributed during the food drive

“We have four children, and they’re all very different,” Dutton said. “Some are more mindful of others and their needs. Out of our four kids, Nate is just very thoughtful about the needs of others. It makes me very proud of Nate and all the kids that this was one of their concerns and they wanted to participate. This is a small, humble church, but there’s always somebody, especially in our community, who needs something or has it worse off than we do.”

Contact Shane Dunaway at sdunaway@dailyhome.com