Submitted by Clairissa Cooper
The 18-wheeler was a welcome sight on the chilly, winter morning of January 13. It meant food had arrived to fill up empty shelves of the Christian Community Action (CCA) food pantry in Lewisville.
The truck was filled with over 20,000 pounds of shelf-stable food as part of a donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to assist both CCA and the Salvation Army of Lewisville. The contribution includes green beans, chicken and pasta soup, beef stew, spaghetti sauce, pork and beans, peanut butter, green beans, mashed potatoes, and more to assist those facing food insecurity.
The food comes from the Bishop’s Storehouse in Salt Lake City, where the church gathers and warehouses food, clothing, water, disaster supplies and other items to be shipped worldwide to assist individuals in need.
“Local food banks play such an important role in providing for the needs of families in our community, particularly those that have been hit so hard and suffering from the health and economic effects of this raging pandemic,” said President Jerry Elmer, a local leader with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“We pray that this donation will answer the prayers of those in need and bring hope to those who are struggling.”
The end-of-year holiday season brings a welcome abundance of generosity and donations to non-profits and food banks, but the needs of communities continue throughout the year.
“The best part of this was the timing of this donation,” said Gilbert Montez, III, President and CEO of CCA. “In January and February, families are still hungry, kids still need to eat. The timing of this shipment is very crucial to us.”
CCA has experienced a 60-70% increase in the number of families they see since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, including 50-80 new families showing up each week for assistance.
“I love the fact that the community comes together, different faiths come together for one purpose: to help the least of these,” said Montez. “This is about neighbors helping neighbors. Most of the families we help are from the southern Denton County area and most of the help we receive are from the southern Denton County area.”
‘Neighbors helping neighbors’ goes beyond the people these organizations serve. Just two blocks down the street from one another, the Salvation Army and CCA also serve each other. CCA is storing the 20,000 pounds of food in their warehouse for use by the Salvation Army and also stores perishable dairy products for them in their cold storage.
“We love working hand-in-hand with CCA to be the best we can be together and to most efficiently and effectively serve our community,” said Stephen Thomas, Executive Director of the Salvation Army for Denton County.
“We are like-minded and here to serve ‘the least of these.’ The need has never been greater. Those that lost their jobs or have been affected by COVID and need assistance, this [donation] is one of those blessings God provided at the right time.”
The Salvation Army of Lewisville has seen unprecedented growth in the number of people they serve – upwards of 2,000 a week. During their twice-a-week mobile food pantry days, they see 600-800 people in car lines that reach up to two miles long.
Thomas said their greatest immediate needs include diapers and personal care items, including volunteers to prepare hundreds of grocery bags to pass out.
In September, the Lewisville Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ donated 1,900 personal hygiene kits to the Salvation Army and organized another substantial donation of diapers by their members in November. Those needs are ongoing and the Salvation Army welcomes donations to be dropped off at 206 W Main St in Lewisville during open hours.
CCA is always in need of volunteers and financial resources, which details can be found on their website at ccahelps.org.
“We always need prayer,” said Montez. “And if people feel safe, we take the necessary precautions and welcome you to come help.”
In addition to the organization websites, other ways for individuals and families to get involved with serving CCA, the Salvation Army, and other non-profit organizations in their local community can be found by logging onto JustServe.org.