Four hundred people in Lee County who might otherwise have not had a Thanksgiving meal will have something on their tables next week.
Lines of cars pulled into Auburn United Methodist church on Magnolia Avenue on Friday, making their way toward a group of volunteers of students, church members and firefighters who places boxes and bags of food in their trunk.
Through church’s Food Pantry, Lee County residents who meet the USDA guidelines for assistance preregistered to receive a meal Friday morning.
“This is our big to-do for the year,” said Reeder Dulaney, director of the Food Pantry.
What began as six boxes of food 16 years ago at the Food Pantry’s origins has evolved to this year’s 401 Thanksgiving boxes, which include a turkey, milk, eggs, bread and more.
Ruthie Wofford, senior in political science, said she enjoys fellowshipping with others outside of the student population and being surrounded by the community.
“It’s really neat to see everyone together,” Wofford, who has volunteered for three years, said.
Even though Karli Ewing just began volunteering at the Food Pantry in August, she said she enjoys talking one-on-one with the community members at the end of the week.
“It’s so rewarding, and it’s a great way to start my weekend,” Ewing, junior in social work, said.
She volunteered on Friday as a part of Impact, which organizes service projects with local nonprofits, and said she sees God at work in the organization.
“It’s really cool to see how much food they’re being blessed with,” she said. “There’s always enough to be able to provide them with.”
The AUMC Food Pantry is open each Friday morning and is funded mostly through donations, though the church budget also supports the ministry. Its goal is to “provide emergency assistance to hungry families in Lee County” so families can increase spending dollars for needs besides food.
About 200 people are already signed up for the Christmas boxes, Dulaney said.
“When we serve, it just blesses the people, and it blesses me too,” Dulaney said.