Our doors open at 8:30 each morning, Monday through Thursday. We usually help 30 – 40 people each morning. Many of our guests live within a couple miles, but some travel a distance from Brunswick County, Pender County, even Columbus County. Lots of them walk, others come by car, or bus, or bicycle.
There was a time that we helped people on a first come, first serve basis, but we found that people would come in the wee hours of the morning – 2 or 3 am and wait to be first in line. We did away with that about two years ago and switched to a lottery system. We ask them to arrive around 8:15am, and we promise that we allow everyone in when we open the doors at 8:30, no matter how many are waiting. Our standard is a maximum of 35 each day, however we stretch that limit if we have more at 8:30. It’s not uncommon for us to greet 40 or more when we open the doors.
Once everyone has signed in, we draw names to determine the sequence we’ll see them in. Depending on the needs of our guests and the number of volunteers on hand, it can take 3 to 4 hours to service everyone. It can be a long morning for some. In addition to the normal food we distribute, we have a special treat available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Thanks to the generosity of two families, we have bagged lunches available on those days. The lunch bag holds a simple sandwich, a bottle of water or can of soda, a piece of fruit and a bag of chips. These lunches are really appreciated and seem to hit the spot after a long morning.
We’d love to be able to offer lunches and Monday and Thursday as well. If your family would like to be involved in this ministry, let us know. You could even sign up to do it for just one day; pick any Monday or Thursday and sign up for that date. We need about 30 bags delivered to the Center by 8:30am. It can be a fun family project to put the lunches together and a way to get your children involved. If you are interested, call the office or send a note to Outreach@thestmaryparish.org.
REMINDER: The Center is closed for Easter break and will re-open Tuesday, April 18. Please hold your donations until we re-open. Thanks!