HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Deborah Stam addressed the Hanceville City Council Thursday night urging churches, civic organizations and community members to help keep the Hope Pantry stocked. The free pantry is located on Bangor Street next to the storm shelter behind the library.
Stam presented a note left at the Hope Pantry by someone who benefited from the project. The anonymous note read (unedited), “Thank you very much for the food. I’m recently looking for a job. Being through a lot. God Bless You! Thanks again!”
Stam recently began looking for help keeping the pantry stocked with food.
She recalled, “It does go fast, but I have been there with people like this one woman (who) was taking a box of opened pancake mix. She said to me, ‘I don’t know what to do with it. It has ants in it.’ She needed it that bad.”
Another woman Stam met had walked more than 2 miles to find food at the pantry.
Publix recently donated a basket of food, including breads and pastries, to help Stam in her mission.
“I got to Publix and there was a basket full of pies, cakes and pastries. They aren’t able to give canned goods,” Stam said.
Stam is challenging local churches and other groups to get involved.
“There are people here that really need this, and I want to get the word out to all these groups that the pantry is here. I would love to see the community get behind this; we can exchange different ideas.”
There are many items that Stam hopes people will consider donating, including nonperishable food, snacks, easy meals for children (cereal and Pop-Tarts) and toiletries. She also suggested marking through the barcodes of donated items to prevent items from being returned. She hopes that helps make sure all items are reaching the people who really need the help.
Donations can be placed directly in the pantry or those who wish can email Stam at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stam said she first became interested in helping food pantries after a trip to Cullman with her husband, John.
“Cullman had one down by Mary Carter,” she said. “When we would go eat the buffet at All-Steak, I would see that little pantry. I felt like Lazarus- the rich man going over Lazarus to get to the door and stepping on him and there he is begging. I said, ‘I’m never going again unless you let me bring a big bag of food for that pantry.’ If I put food in the pantry then I don’t feel guilty lavishing myself at this big buffet because there’s a lot of people who can’t do that. That’s when I started to do it, and then we got one here.”
Stam is optimistic, saying, “It’s grassroots right now, but my goal is every time I go by that thing for it to be full. If I could just have 10% of the churches participate, we could easily do that.”
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