By Tonya Cook
Cherokee County Herald Correspondent
The feeding America website in cooperation with Walmart and local charities states on their website that their mission statement is “Giving people access to a better life, one community at a time.’ It also states that they consider it their responsibility to make a positive impact in the communities in which they serve. Whether it's through grants provided to thousands of organizations or inspiring volunteer efforts of Walmart associates. Their passion is about helping people live better.....one community at a time.
In 2011, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave $989.6 million in cash and in-kind contributions throughout the world. Our Weiss Lake area communities are blessed to be a recipient of a portion of this.
Back in 2010, a local charity found itself overwhelmed and could no longer distribute food locally available through the Feeding America Program. Roger Griffith, a Red Cross representative, Nikkie Tucker, a local Realtor, and Carolyn Haskins began to work together to make sure local families who desired received much needed fresh fruit and vegetables though the pantry at Cedar Bluff First Baptist Church where Tucker and Haskins are both members.
As the pantry ministry grew, First Baptist invited the Cedar Bluff Methodist Church to help and together the two sister churches hosted the pantry on alternating weeks ever Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings.
At the end of 2011, the Red Cross found itself no longer able to serve as the 501-3C sponsor of the pantry ministry. Three Rivers Corporations stepped in as the non-profit sponsor. To date, Walmart, Feeding America, and the pantry ministries at both Cedar Bluff churches have provided food for tens of thousands of meals for families. “We could not have done this without Walmart and the Feeding America program. Other business and individuals have become active in caring for the larger Weiss Lake community because of Walmart's generosity” said pastor Tim Kendrick of Cedar Bluff United Methodist Church.
The pantries feature not only food but comfort and friendship as well, Tuesday, Reverend Mark Cosby, pastor of the Cedar Bluff First Baptist Church, prayed that all those who gathered at the pantry and people were encouraged to share prayer request. “We are a family,” shared one volunteer, “and we support one another and hope to reach out and help others as well.”