Local Food Pantry Serves Christ’s Will
By Miles Layton
A few hours after Pastor Darrell Mayfield’s Sunday sermon at Sistersville’s First Baptist Church, he was thinking about the church’s food pantry.
“Jesus commands us in the Bible to help others,” he said. “The food pantry is just one way we can do that as Christians.”
Mayfield said the food pantry serves 109 families and/or individuals primarily in the Sistersville area, but also from all across Tyler County. Since Mayfield took over the pulpit at the church about two years ago, the number of people served by the food has increased by more than 25 percent.
“I’d say the number of people we serve has increased dramatically,” he said. “We are seeing three and four new clients a month.”
Families, some with three or four children, are among those who utilize the food pantry.
“These families – they need food,” Mayfield said. “Many times, they don’t have anything to eat in their homes. Most of the them are grateful when they receive the food.”
Located within the church on Wells Street, the food pantry is open between 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesdays. Funding comes from donations, not from state or federal government assistance. Mayfield said many of the people who need the food pantry are either unable to find work or are disabled.
“I feel compassion for these people because it could be anyone else in their circumstances,” he said.
Mayfield said because of the increased demand, the pantry always needs food. A person or family is eligible for food once every eight weeks.
“We always need more and more food to help the hungry, the needy,” he said.
A handful of dedicated volunteers manage the food pantry.
“This is a Godly community. I want to live that life – so I got involved,” Jean Low, a longtime volunteer. “Being a part of the church and what they do, the public doesn’t see all the hardwork and dedication that we put into helping others. It’s tireless work and amazing at the same time.”
Low said she sees a lot of people who don’t live within walking distance, but have to make arrangements just to acquire food.
“You could tell from talking with them and reaching out that they live a hard life,” she said. “They have medical issues that need to be addressed. Sometimes there is family dysfunction that causes them to suffer more. And then there people who are just having a hard time, but may be able to rebound. With a little bit of help, they can be back on their feet.” Low said in the past, she has used the food pantry when she has faced hard times. Low said she understands the clients that it serves and knows that not it is easy to ask for help, but sometimes it is necessary.
“They are sad that they have to have this food. That’s humility coming out, but they know they need this food,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking and you want to do more to help people. And you want to tell others to come together to help others. That’s what we want to see.”
Jeannie Hicks, a pantry volunteer, added, “People that get food – some of them can’t believe we are doing this and they are very grateful.”
Hicks said she volunteers her time “because I like to give back to the community.”
Low said giving honors the Lord.
“When you know Christ, you love your fellow man,” she said.