LINDSIDE — What started with a phone call from a friend resulted in 40,000 pounds of food delivered to Monroe County food banks last week, via Salt Lake City, Utah.
Donna Boothe of Lindside said a friend called and told her to check into a program though the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) that delivers non-perishable goods to food banks.
Boothe said she called Darrell Mann with the LDS Church in Peterstown and then was referred to another church member, Megan Mann Raines.
“They put me in touch with a lady in Pulaski County (Jackie Grosebeck),” Boothe said. “Her mission is to give food out to people who are in need. She said she would check on it.”
Not long after that call, Boothe received a call from a lady in Salt Lake City, the headquarters of the LDS Church.
“She told me they would have a trailer truck load of food and to contact food pantries in the county,” she said. “I called all six food banks.”
A delivery date was then set for Thursday, Jan. 7 at 10 a.m. but an issue that surfaced quickly was unloading 20 tons of food from a large tractor-trailer, a difficult job to do by hand.
Raines, who helps with the women’s organizations at the Peterstown LDS Branch, said her brother, Matt Mann, owns M-Rock Stone Manufacturers near Peterstown, and he told her the truck could come there and the food could be unloaded with forklifts at loading docks.
“That’s the role I play as far as the church is concerned,” Raines said Thursday at M-Rock as the food was being unloaded. “I helped coordinate all the information and truck delivery with Grosebeck.”
Raines said the LDS church is always active in helping food banks.
“It (the massive food delivery) is a program used all over the country,” she said, adding that food is regularly (once a month) available for food banks on a smaller scale.
“We also have a program like this where they get a lot of food,” she added.
Raines said the individual food banks’ responsibility was to come to M-Rock to pick it up and then have a place to store it.
“I think everybody was in such a need, they said, ‘No problem, we will make it work,’” she said. “You’ve good representation from about every food bank and people in the community who were willing to come to help.”
Forklifts brought out the boxes of food on pallets, everything from macaroni and tomato sauce to canned beef stew and vegetables, and the pallets were arranged in assembly line style where trucks from the food pantries could line up and pick up some of each.
Boothe was busy making sure each food pantry represented received the allotted portion from the pallets, depending to a degree on how much storage space is available, as volunteers loaded the trucks and trailers.
Several of those volunteers were LDS Church missionaries.
LDS Elder Andrew Jeske was one of three missionaries volunteering to help out. He and his friends are on a two-year mission here and help out in the community where there is a need and help at the food pantry at Peterstown United Methodist Church every week.
“This if the first time an extra big load of food is coming in, though,” he said, and he was happy to help unload it.
Jeske, who is from Wyoming, said the food program is international in scope and targets areas where food is needed.
Stetson Robinson, Branch President of the Peterstown LDS Church congregation, was also on hand to help.
Robinson said this was the largest LDS Church food delivery ever in the county.
“The church does this worldwide,” he said. “They have a massive humanitarian presence around the world. Church members give tithing as well as offerings to help pay for things like this … It’s something we try to do as much we can.”
Robinson, who also helped with an LDS Church project last year to clean up the Oak Grove Cemetery in Bluewell, said the church responds to where the need is, from a hurricane to a pandemic, and hopes to do these food deliveries “as much as we can. I know there is a big need.”
Gordy Hazelwood, Fred Terry and Sandy Whitt, with the Peterstown United Methodist Church Food Bank, were on hand to pick up food and deliver it to the food bank.
Hazewood said he and Terry have been helping with the food bank for many years.
“Every time a truck shows up (with donated food to unload), we show up,” he said.
But this was the largest truckload ever, as the bed of Hazelwood’s truck was filled with boxes of food.
Donna Boothe’s husband Steve helped out as well.
They also volunteer at the Peterstown food bank and Steve Boothe said the need has been great.
“You never know how many families will show up,” he said, but one day they gave food to 57 families.
Other food banks represented Thursday included Lindside United Methodist Church, Lifeline Church of God Operation Compassion, Union Methodist Church, Monroe County Coalition for Children and Families and Alderson Food Pantry.
“We are all excited about this,” Donna Boothe said.
— Contact Charles Boothe at email@example.com