Sally prepares boxes of food for local families in need in Sardis, GA.

Sally jokes happily with a fellow volunteer as she deftly packs a box of food at Sardis Baptist Church Food Pantry. From her sunny demeanor, you would never guess what her family has been through, or that they will be receiving a food assistance themselves at the end of the day.

“This place got us through the hard time, and gave me new hope and new joy,” Sally says. Sally, age 67, is raising her 3 grandchildren after her daughter passed away when the children were small. Just 3 years ago Sally’s husband passed away as well, leaving the family without a source of income.

Then Nancy Cain, the Food Pantry Director at Sardis Baptist Food Pantry, reached out to Sally. “Nancy came to my house and got me and brought me here to the food pantry, she brought me out of myself,” remembers Sally. After receiving help at the food pantry and witnessing the community of caring there, Sally began to volunteer each week helping to pack food after.

“I love it here – it gives me joy to be able to help,” Sally says. “When I think about how blessed I am, seeing the people that love me, I’m so happy.”

Barry Jenkins, Sally, Janiqua, Nancy Cain, and Daimon share a smile as the family receives food assistance after volunteering at the Sardis Baptist Church Food Pantry

Pretty soon, Sally’s two older grandchildren – Janiqua (18) and Daimon (16) –  began volunteering every week along with her. In addition to receiving food assistance, the family found support and joy in helping others.

“This food helps us a whole lot,” says Sally. “We get chicken, potatoes, onions, so many good things – I can’t wait to make us a meal when I get the food home.”

Now, with enough nutritious food, Janiqua is excelling in school and applying to attend college in the fall. She was even able to use her volunteer experience at the food pantry as a work-based learning program to help with her college application.

“About half of the people who volunteer are previous clients or current ones,” says Cain; “At least half are families with children, and about two thirds are senior citizens.” The food pantry serves about 300 families each month and works to include healthy foods like meat, dairy, produce.

Barry Jenkins, a retired RN, explains the food pantry’s mission: “This is God’s work – we want to meet the spiritual needs of the people in this community as well as their bodily needs,” he says. “Sharing the gospel and offering prayers for those who need it is a part of our ministry as well.” Cain agrees; “When you show people that you care about them, you can really start to make a difference in their life.”

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