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Food pantry spotlight: Gospel Mission

Although the Gospel Mission Food Pantry is a God-focused pantry, director Candy Waite said volunteers don’t preach or push visitors to believe.

“There’s more than one way to skin a polecat for the Lord,” she said with a laugh. “We show them the love of Jesus Christ and that’s what it’s all about.”

Waite said God called her and her husband, Jeff, into the ministry in 2009 and they opened their Lancaster Street pantry in September 2011.

“We feed anybody that God brings through the doors of Gospel Mission,” she explained. “We don’t ask for identification. They don’t need to wait a month to come back. We give them enough for a few days and if they need more, we’re here for them.”

Since the pandemic hit, the pantry is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday “for people to look at clothes,” she added. The food pantry is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, so people can come in for both clothes and food.

“When people come to look at clothes, we are here and they can always get food,” she added. “We always help them.”

The food items given out depend on what the community donates. With monetary donations, they buy things such as hot dogs and bologna. The pandemic made it difficult to buy certain items, but they have been able to purchase them online.

Waite said the pantry is running in the red, so any donated items are of a great value and a blessing. Food items usually given out include flour, sugar, salt, tuna, vienna sausages, macaroni and cheese, green beans, corn and peanut butter and jelly.

They also get donations from the Harvest of Hope.

“We get a lot of meat, some sweets, some bread,” Waite explained. “We’re supposed to get a delivery once a month. Sometimes another pantry can’t take what’s offered to them, so they bring it to us.”

She said when she sees their white truck pull up, she’s thankful for their labor of love.

Waite noted they are a community food pantry, so it doesn’t matter where the person in need lives. The pantry doesn’t just offer food…they offer clothing and a friendly ear to listen.

“We lend a listening ear,” she said. “Sometimes they just need someone to listen and we let them talk.”

The pantry helps an average of 1,000 people a month. Waite said she sees a lot of veterans come through the doors.

“Our veterans shouldn’t want for anything,” she added. “They served their country. Veterans hold a very special place in our hearts.”

Marietta resident Craig Moore, 36, has volunteered at the pantry since 2014.

“I just needed some extra things to do,” he explained. “I had some extra time and thought I’d do something for the community.”

He said the best part of volunteering is getting to see both new and familiar faces. He said they become like family.

Waite feels the same about people she meets through the pantry. For instance, when she and her husband were injured in a car accident last year, Moore kept the pantry open.

“The people we see become like family. If we don’t see them for three or four weeks, we try to find them through a friend of a friend,” she said. “They are more than just people who come and need food.”

Waite explained they have seen neighborhood children come in needing food.

“Sometimes they don’t know where their mom or dad is and we’ve been able to get them food to keep them going,” she added. “It will break your heart to see children come in.”

The pantry is a shelter from the storms in the childrens’ lives, but it can also be a shelter for adults who need prayer.

“We offer people Bibles. People come to us and ask us to pray for them,” Waite said. “They write our prayer requests and we pray with them. They’re very loving people, they just hit a bend in the road.”

Sometimes people who once needed food are able to pay it forward. She said there was a gentleman who was helped through the pantry for a couple of years. He said if he ever got to the point in his life where he could help, he would.

“He finally got on his feet and a couple of weeks ago, he brought a donation,” Waite said. “It was like a truck full of groceries. After we helped him for so long, he was able to pay it forward.”

She said she is humbled by the community and others who have been able to give back.

“They’re human beings and we treat them like human beings,” Waite explained. “God bless them. Continue to pray for Gospel Mission Food Pantry. We thank everybody from the bottom of our hearts for their thoughts and prayers.”

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

If you go:

• Who: Gospel Mission Food Pantry.

• When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

•Where: 309 Lancaster St., Marietta.

•Available to: Anyone in need.

Source: Candy Waite.

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