By Alice Ortiz/Monroe Journal
AMORY – When Charles Coggins first came to Smithville in 2008, he saw the town’s need for a food pantry and clothes closet.
Thanks to support from his church and others in the community, Coggins, pastor of Smithville United Methodist Church, has seen that need met through the Helping Hands Ministry.
“I don’t want this to be a Methodist or denomination thing, but the Lord’s thing,” said Coggins.
“Several churches in the area had talked about it and I had a vision and just stayed with it. We’ve gotten it started, and that is the key.”
Mary Ann Carlisle, who owns an antique shop in town, donated a building in back of her store for the food pantry. Several people put a lot of work into cleaning and renovating the space, and it officially opened Jan. 16. Without any public announcement, eight people came for food and clothing.
“We plan to be open the third Saturday of each month,” said Coggins. “We have been in touch with a lot of churches with a list of what we need of basic items to give out. We will take food and clothing donations on the first and second Monday of the month.”
Clothing donations must be clean and items in good condition.
People who need assistance can go to Helping Hands, where they will receive an evaluation. The amount of assistance will depend on the number in the household.
Ray Silas, a member of New Bethel UMC in the Turon community, will oversee the food section of Helping Hands.
“Our church is very small, but as a church family we want to help those in need. Many have lost their jobs and we want to help them over the bump,” Silas said. “The ones serving others will get more of a blessing from giving than the ones receiving.”
Shirley Alred will be in charge of clothing. She is a member of Crossbound Church.
“This is my first venture into community service. I think it is a great thing that the different churches are coming together,” Alred said. “We are doing what we are supposed to do, helping others.”
Coggins said he hopes the ministry will grow so much it will need a larger building in the future.