By Emily Banks Wooten
Volunteers at the MannaFest Food Pantry served 416 families, or 1,063 individuals, during the month of April, an average of 46 families per day. In fact, April proved to be an exceptionally busy month for MannaFest volunteers.
“Looking back at our 2021 reports, these numbers have risen every month so far this year,” MannaFest Executive Director Marilyn Wise said.
Thirteen volunteers gathered April 27 to pack summer food boxes, packing 300 17-pound boxes in just under two hours, although hours of preparation occurred prior. Volunteer Marylee Westmoreland ordered and shopped for all the items to fill the boxes which include 21 different food items in each box. She also prepackaged many of the items like snack crackers. Boxes were purchased and taped together. Roy Norrell and friends set up the items in a line on the day before, to facilitate the packing.
“This is a massive undertaking, but well worth it. These boxes are so important to our families with school-age kids. They are given as an extra gift for three months while school is out, to help out while the kids are not getting breakfast and lunch at school,” Wise said, adding that the summer food box program will begin Monday and continue for 12 weeks.
On April 16, the day before Easter, 15 people including volunteers, their children and their grandchildren delivered flowers to the two low-income senior apartment complexes -- Hudman & Livingston Seniors Apartments.
“This is always a special time for both volunteers and residents. Many of the residents look forward to our yearly flower delivery. Others find it a delightful surprise as they are new to the apartments. One man told my five-year-old granddaughter that he was going to plant his flower in the little garden just outside his door, and every time he looked at it, he would remember the pretty little girl who gave it to him,” Wise said. “I know the other teams all have stories about their deliveries also. We had the opportunity to pray with some of our clients and to just chat with others. What a blessing it was.”
Nine volunteers gathered April 19-20 to clean up both the pantry and the grounds. This included sweeping, organizing, weeding, mowing, planting and other tasks. “Our pantry is always clean, but we were able to clear up some clutter and make sure things looked extra nice for our open house,” Wise said.
An open house was held on April 21 to honor volunteers and donors, and to celebrate 20 years of service at the facility, as well as show off the addition and renovations that were recently completed.
“We were honored to have a number of guests tour the pantry and enjoy cookies and punch. Several signed up to volunteer and/or receive our monthly newsletter,” Wise said.
“We are blessed to have so many faithful volunteers. In a month where we had many
opportunities on the calendar, all of our endeavors were successful. I want to offer a special thank you to each of you who purchased, packaged and delivered flowers, cleaned, mowed,
planted and weeded, prepared for and packed summer food boxes, baked cookies or made punch for the open house, helped host the open house … and, on top of everything, kept the regular activities of the pantry running smoothly. You are a wonderful team,” Wise said.
She mentioned that volunteers are still needed for Eaglefest from 1-7 p.m. on May 28. “This is the first time since the pandemic began that the Eagle has hosted this concert, and we are very excited to be participating again, as we always receive many wonderful food items from the concertgoers.”
MannaFest Food Pantry is located at 803 Feagin St. in Livingston and the telephone number is 936-327-9555. It is open from 9 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Fridays and from 9-11 a.m. the first Saturday of each month. However, on Monday May 30 the pantry will be closed for Memorial Day.