Stopping Hunger One Food Drive At A Time

Volunteers fill a box of food for Kaleb Allinen, left, at the food giveaway at Gospel Tabernacle Saturday. Dunn Daily Record Photo

Cars lined up at Gospel Tabernacle Church early and often Saturday morning.

Like so many other food drives over the past six months, the number of cars waiting for assistance spoke volumes about the need families face since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lisa Greene, CEO of Marketing with a Twist, helped organize numerous community outreaches similar to the food drive at Gospel Tabernacle on Saturday and has seen firsthand how the impact of the coronavirus outbreak hit families across North Carolina.

“Rona came in here with a roar,” Greene said. “The need is great. Rona came in and hit people making six figures down. We’ve seen all kinds of people. They come from somewhere and there is no ‘I’ in team. There is a ‘E’ in effort for everybody. All we’re doing is what God wants. We’re here to help him out and we’re his disciples today.”

Greene partnered with the Food Banks of Central and Eastern North Carolina in March and launched her “Stop Hunger One Community at a Time” outreach. Greene’s efforts since then have fed more than 32,000 people in 15 counties, distributing approximately one million pounds of food. What Greene found through her travels is that the pandemic impacted virtually everyone and spared hardly anyone.

Cars line up outside Gospel Tabernacle Saturday morning for a free food giveaway. Dunn Daily Record Photo

“We’re helping out with the economic challenge from COVID,” said Greene. “You can’t judge a book by its cover. You have to be compassionate to everybody. You can’t judge people, you have to love them, even if they’re your enemy.”

Gospel Tabernacle Pastor Randy Hill welcomed Greene, along with dozens of volunteers, to continue the church’s efforts of reaching out to the community during its time of need.

“We’re taking care of the natural need, giving them food, and pastors are going by and praying for each car, to bring the spiritual and natural together to turn the city of Dunn into the city of God,” Hill said. “All we’re trying to do is bring the body of Christ together. You’ve gotta love people and that’s all we’re trying to do. We’re partnering with different agencies so we can share the word of God. This isn’t about one church, this is about taking the city as the kingdom of God.”

Zach Thomas, of Dunn, mans a food table at the Gospel Tabernacle giveaway Saturday. Dunn Daily Record Photo

Gospel Tabernacle opened its doors in August and created a virtual learning hub for students whose parents couldn’t afford to stay home while many school campuses remained closed. Hill said the church wanted to hold at least two outreaches a month during the pandemic.

“We’re trying to take care of first responders, our police department and now families,” said Hill. “We’re targeting different groups so we make sure we minister to everybody.”

Local organizations joined dozens of volunteers for the food drive, which distributed more than 32,000 pounds of food to approximately 600 families. Dunn City Council, Dunn Police Department, the Food Lion Distribution Center, Family Medical Supply, Miller’s Landscaping, N.C. Cooperative Community Extension, Faith of Power Church, Omega Psi Phi fraternity, and Strickland Pallets all contributed to helping 481 cars leave with a multi-day supply of food.

“It’s all about service to the community,” Cubia Massey with the Greeks of Harnett County said. “We’re all out here being servants and it’s fitting that we’re at Gospel Tabernacle for that reason. It gives you an inner-feeling that you can’t explain, knowing that you’re serving others in their time of need. Everybody is pitching in to help everybody.”

Mike James directs a car at the food giveaway at Gospel Tabernacle Church Saturday morning. Dunn Daily Record Photo

With cars lining up well before the 9 a.m. kickoff, organizers devised an efficient production line where groups of five vehicles proceeded through a pick-up zone. Masked volunteers loaded up cars, trucks and minivans with two boxes of food, vegetables, fruit, milk and water. People of all ages turned out to lend a hand.

“It’s great,” said Zach Thomas, a member of Gospel Tabernacle. “I get to help other people who are in need. I feel like I’m also helping God, helping people who have been out of business or out of work, help them get food and other resources.”

Greene helped organize a similar food drive at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in June that reached an estimated 200 families.

-Dunn Daily Record