LINCOLN -- The Lincoln Food Pantry has been providing staples to families in need since 2011, but coming into it busiest time of year this year, the organization is getting help from some special volunteers.
Lincoln High School special education teacher Blair Mayfield has been bringing half a dozen or so of his students to help out at the pantry every Monday for the past five or six weeks, he said.
“I wanted these kids to do more than just sit in a classroom,” he said. “They can work, and I went to a lot of different companies and got turned down, usually for insurance reasons. (Lincoln Hardware is the other exception, he said).
“But they look forward to coming here every week, and it teaches them to be accountable and gives them work experience. It works out well for everybody. They want to help and they get their transition units for school, too.”
Mayfield said he was particularly grateful for the help of Talladega County Schools Special Education Coordinator Dr. Kristin Harrell and Principal Andy Keith for making the program happen. Instructional assistant Eugene Crim is instrumental in making sure the students get to and from their volunteer jobs safely as well.
Pantry Director Marsha Martin says having the special education students “helps us a lot, too, it really means a lot. Their presence has a positive impact on us, and it lets them give back to the community they live in.
“We love hearing the sound of their laughter and the sounds of them saying, ‘I did it.’ That’s music to our ears. They just bring in a lot of very positive energy.”
There are also other lessons to be learned from the volunteer work.
“The kids know where the food is going,” Mayfield said. “They know that they have challenges in their own lives, but they learn that they are blessed, too.”
Martin said the Lincoln Food Pantry was founded in 2011 by Marie Moore and several other volunteers. On average, the pantry serve 150 to 170 families, or about 380 people, per month. And Martin said the facility continues to have people coming in to register all the time.
Because the food is purchased through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there is an income-based registration process. The intention is to help food insecure families in the Lincoln area, but no one who comes in and meets the qualifications will be turned away, Martin said.
Families that are registered and qualified are allowed one box per month, to be picked up on a specific Monday based on the first letter of their last name. The contents of the boxes vary according to what is available but usually include beans, pasta, canned fruits and vegetables, crackers, rice and other staple foods. The pantry recently acquired a new cooler, which means it can also provide fresh produce and other perishables.
And, of course, with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, the pantry will be serving more families than ever. Martin said supporters have been generous, with one family in particular providing all the meat for holiday meals. The pantry provided holiday meals for 140 families last year and is aiming for 150 this year, she said.
“I really want to say how much I appreciate my board of directors, too,” she said. “They really have a heart for the food insecure right here in Lincoln, and that’s’ why we’re here.”
Lincoln Food Pantry is a United Way agency, supported by payroll deductions as well as by generous donations from companies and individuals. The organization also receives volunteer assistance through Alabama Teen Challenge.
For more information or to donate or volunteer, please call 205-842-76710 or email email@example.com.