Christian Love Pantry expansion

Volunteer Jimmy Pollard of Riverside vacuums the floor of the new addition to The Christian Love Pantry.

Jimmy Pollard of Riverside continued to vacuum along the corners of the new storage room to The Christian Love Pantry.

“We just got through painting it,” he said.

Pollard and his son-in-law, Mike Williams of Riverside, who both volunteer for the nonprofit group, were now focusing their attention on the concrete floor of the spacious storage room recently completed.

Pollard said they planned to stain and seal the floor, and had just completed sanding it.

“Thanks to many volunteers and several contractors working with the Pantry, this project was completed in about four weeks,” said Bob Osborn, the food coordinator for The Christian Love Pantry. “It is so nice when a community comes together to work on a common goal. We could have not completed this project without the Lord’s help in bringing the right folks at the right time with the right talents. Praise the Lord.”

The Christian Love Pantry provides non-perishable food items to families in need. The nonprofit held an official ribbon-cutting for the new storage room on Monday.

The new storage room is 20 feet by 30 feet and will provide needed space to store food that is brought from the Central Alabama Community Food Bank in Birmingham to the Christian Love Pantry by volunteers, as well as groceries purchased in local stores.

“On average, we provide about six tons of food per month, and serve about 50 families per week,” said Alan Foster, the director for The Christian Love Pantry.

Foster, who has served as the nonprofit’s director for the past three years, said The Christian Love Pantry needed to add on to the Pell City Social Services Center because new tenant, Easterseals Community Health Clinic, needed space to open a medical care center for St. Clair County residents who have no health insurance, providing another service for those in need.

Foster said the need for assistance peaked in 2013, but assistance numbers have dropped at The Christian Love Pantry, until this year.

“The unemployment rate has gone down (in St. Clair County), but we had an increase in users,” he said, adding that some clients are part of the working poor, while some single parents have a hard time finding babysitters for shifts they must work.

“You still have a lot of help wanted signs,” he said. “But you have to make enough of a profit to make it pay for babysitters.”

Families, he said, must qualify for assistance at The Christian Love Pantry, and the organization can only assist a family every six months. The nonprofit’s focuses on emergency assistance.

Foster said some parents have low-income jobs, and when you add three or four kids, the family struggles from payday to payday. He said The Christian Love Pantry has seen a 5 percent increase in first-time users this year, even though unemployment rates are as low as they’ve ever been in the recent years.

The age of clients range from 19-59, he said.

The Christian Love Pantry does not have any paid employees and depends on volunteers and donations to help serve the needy in the community.

“We can always use donations,” Foster said.

Osborn said the Pell City Social Center provides a place where those in need can receive help in many ways at one location.

“The city and county worked together with the community service agencies, in this 19th Street building, to make it possible to have several groups provide services in one spot,” he said. “Our goal is to help those in need, whether it is utility bills, medical treatment or need for food. We are so blessed in Pell City to have such a place.”

The Christian Love Pantry is inside the Pell City Social Services Center at 205 Edwin Holladay Place, Pell City.