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A break from hunger

By Sarah L. Smith
Coastal Observer

Food banks and soup kitchens are stocking their shelves in preparation for a busy holiday season.

Father Pat’s Kitchen at Precious Blood of Christ Catholic Church, Belin Memorial United Methodist Church and Baskervill Ministries are collecting nonperishable items while and Pawleys Island Presbyterian’s new Bread of Life soup kitchen is looking for more donations as their numbers grow.

“As we approach Christmas, the need seems to go up,” Rachel McElheney, a volunteer at Baskervill Ministries, said.

She’s handed out groceries at Baskervill food bank every Monday for the past seven years.

This Christmas she expects Baskervill will give food to at least 100 families. Last year it gave 94 families and 252 individuals groceries for the holiday season.

“We give soups, we give fruit, we give meat, we give green vegetables and other vegetables,” McElheney said.

Some organizations will prepare holiday meals and others, like Baskervill, will provide groceries.

Precious Blood of Christ Catholic Church will do both.

This Sunday, the Catholic church and Belin United Methodist will give brown paper bags for parishioners to fill with nonperishable food items.

The Catholic church will give the food to 73 families for Thanksgiving meals, along with perishable items the church will buy using money it raised in its annual Taste of Pawleys.

Belin Methodist will give the food to Helping Hands, a crisis ministry in Georgetown County for people struggling to make ends meet.

In addition to grocery distribution, Father Pat’s Kitchen will serve a free Thanksgiving dinner for up to 200 people.

During the week, lunch is available Wednesday and Thursday between 11:30 am. and 1:30 p.m. Ellen Sullivan, the parish coordinator, said about 20 to 30 more people are coming than in November last year.

“Most of the people we serve are from the Pawleys Island area,” she said. “There is certainly a need.”

Pawleys Island Presbyterian Church saw that need and opened its own kitchen in September.

The Bread of Life soup kitchen serves hot, homemade meals every Monday from 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Rick Russ, the soup kitchen’s founder, said 20 people came the first week. He expects over 50 by the holidays.

Teach My People, a local children’s after-school ministry, gives bread to the kitchen. Food donations and cash provide the other ingredients for the meals.

Since the cooks, Marilyn Langey and Gaye Sparkman, never know what they’ll have each week, they can’t plan meals until Sunday night. On Monday morning they start to cook for 50 people.

This week, the main ingredient was leftover ham. There wasn’t enough ham to give everyone a slice, so the cooks turned it into a casserole, green beans and breadmade up the rest of the meal.

Russ expects at least 70 to 100 people will attend during the holidays, so food donations or money are appreciated. Since the kitchen opened, Russ said they’ve been close to running out of food, but it hasn’t happened yet.

“If we do, I’ll run down to KFC or McDonald’s and get meals for everyone,” he said.

These gifts to the community don’t go unnoticed. People who eat meals at either location leave with smiles, bags of leftovers and, at Precious Blood of Christ, extra bread.

On sunny days, children will take some of the bread to feed ducks on the church’s pond while their parents watch and talk with friends.

At the Presbyterian Church, guests smile, wave and say thank you on their way out the door.

“The Bread of Life soup kitchen is a place for fellowship and serving people body and soul,” Russ said. “It’s not just about feeding them. It’s about making them feel loved.”

Paris Washington, 2, felt loved Monday. Volunteers and guests at Bread of Life sang “Happy Birthday” and presented her with a cupcake.

She happily licked off the chocolate icing and sprinkles first. In between giving everyone smiles, her grandmother, Elizabeth Washington, wiped the chocolate remnants off Paris’ mouth.

“She loves it here,” Washington said.

The family comes every week.

“It’s like a party,” Sparkman said.

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