East Ark pantry needs cash donations as holidays near

FORREST CITY (Times-Herald) - The holiday season always brings a surplus of food donations for the St Francis County Food Pantry, but for this holiday season, monetary donations are also needed as Pantry officials prepare to move into their new home.

According to Pantry Director LaTwon Whitby, area residents, churches and organizations are helping with food during the holiday season, but it is the cash donations that have dropped off.

"Our community has always supported us and they are again this holiday season. One of the things we have to try to balance is the influx of food donations during the holidays and then the drop off we see after the start of the new year. We may see a surplus of food during the holidays, but once we have our Christmas dinner and then have people come in early in January, that depletes those resources, but we appreciate whatever we receive," said Whitby.

"The big thing we're seeing this year is that our cash donations are down right now. We are receiving the money from the city and the county, but the donations from area churches and individuals are down," said Whitby.

"We're getting everything ready for the new building, and we're going to have to stock it up and buy equipment and everything. Right now we can foresee some funding issues with just paying the monthly bills. All of our bills are moving from a house rate to a corporate rate and there's nothing we can do about it. We're not asking folks for much, but if they could just donate $10 or $20 it would help out considerably," said Whitby.

Pantry officials had been hopeful the new building would be finished in time for its annual Christmas community dinner, but Whitby said it would take divine intervention for that to happen.

"Personally, I don't think it will happen. I was over there last week and they were still putting the ceiling in, the walls needed to be painted and there were a few other things that needed to be done. I think it would take a miracle for us to be in the building by Christmas, but Jesus does those every day. We still have to order our equipment and get everything installed and moved over from our current building. I just don't think we're going to be able to do that and have the meal and everything in just a few weeks," said Whitby.

He said the Pantry has still been blessed. "We will get everything over there and moved in when the Lord is willing. I'm in no hurry. It will get done when God wants it to. We have been tremendously blessed, and you're not going to hear me complain. The Lord and this community blessed us with this new building, and we'll get in there when we need to. We just have to be patient," said Whitby.

Once in the new facility, Whitby said some of the issues currently facing the Pantry will be eliminated.

"We are looking forward to getting into the new building. One of the things we have to deal with is not having room for all of the different types of donations people offer us. There are times when we've had to turn down different produce items or other items because we just didn't have the room in the house to put it. I don't think that's going to be a problem in the new building. We're going to have plenty of space for storage. We won't have people sitting on the curb to eat anymore. We may not get in when we wanted to, but this is still a blessing that we appreciate," added Whitby.

To contact the Pantry to make a donation, call 870-630-1823.

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