HOUSTON – The U.S. Commerce Department estimates one in six children in America go to bed hungry at least once a week.
And that number has to be higher in Houston and rural Chickasaw County.
First Baptist Church Food Pantry gave out 99 turkeys last week at its monthly food ministry.
Those in line were given a turkey and a grocery sack of food to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner.
“They started lining up about noon time and we had about 50 by mid-afternoon,” said First Baptist Church Pastor Daniel Heeringa. “We had only bought 60 turkeys and made up 60 sacks of groceries.”
Heeringa said the Food Pantry is filled by First Baptist Church members who bring a different canned item every Sunday. He also pointed out there are church members who faithfully donate to the ministry that has been feeding the hungry each month for several years.
And this year saw something special happen.
“When we saw we wouldn’t have enough turkeys I made a few phone calls,” said Heeringa. “We had an anonymous donor step up and Kirkham Dendy at Grocer’s Pride always cuts us a sweetheart deal for those turkeys.”
Heeringa said they quickly bought an additional 40 turkeys and prayed it would be enough.
The food pantry operates on a simple premis:
“Jesus said we are supposed to feed the hungry,” said Heeringa. “All we ask is they let us fill out a simple form and let us pray for them.”
Heeringa said they ask families to just pick up one sack and this month, one turkey, so more families can be served.
“We don’t ask them how much money they make, if they really deserve it or anything like that,” he explained. “We just give away food until we run out.”
And while the 60 grocery sacks went quickly, the church ended up giving away 99 turkeys.
“We actually gave away 100 turkeys but we had a man come back and say he didn’t know how to cook at turkey and probably couldn’t eat the whole thing anyway,” said Heeringa. “We made sure he had a sack of groceries and sent him on his way. We’ll find someone who needs that turkey.”