Barnwell’s homeless and other financially-strapped residents will soon have a place to eat.
The community has been without a soup kitchen since Barnwell Presbyterian Church closed the Legion Center Ministry Soup Kitchen on April 28 due to financial reasons. However, First Baptist Church of Barnwell is organizing a new soup kitchen with the assistance of several other churches and organizations.
“I cried when it closed. I’m very passionate about this ministry,” said Sherrie Still, a member of First Baptist Church who helped with the previous soup kitchen for three years. She has now been hired as the coordinator for the new soup kitchen.
The Legion Center Ministry Soup Kitchen served an average of 100 people per day, which equaled approximately 25,000 meals last year. Still said she meets some of those people on a weekly basis, including some who ask her to keep them in her prayers.
“It’s about showing Jesus’ love through action. In doing this, the community soup kitchen feeds people who are hungry physically and spiritually,” she said.
Still hopes the community soup kitchen will be open by early December. Currently, they have enough volunteers from seven partnering churches and organizations to open on Mondays and Fridays, but she would like to be open every weekday.
“Anybody who has a heart to serve in our community can be a part of helping,” said Still, who has sent letters to 60 area churches seeking assistance.
While some churches are responsible for one meal every week, that’s not a reality for everyone. Still said churches and organizations can take responsibility for one or two days per month. She has also had some individuals express an interest in helping wherever needed. She said she can form teams of individuals if enough people sign up.
The community soup kitchen is also coming to fruition thanks to monetary support from First Baptist Church and the Barnwell County United Way. The United Way, which supported the previous soup kitchen, has pledged $1,000 to the new one.
John Haskell, the chief professional officer for the county’s United Way, said he appreciates every individual, family and company that supports the organization because that allows them to support more than 35 partner agencies in Barnwell and Allendale counties.
Still is also grateful to Crane in Williston for awarding a grant to the Cans for Cans ministry through the Crane Fund for Widows and Children. Cans for Cans was started by Still a couple years ago to raise money to purchase canned food for the soup kitchen. A trailer is set up beside 21 Allen Street in Barnwell to collect aluminum cans, which are then recycled. The proceeds are then used to purchase canned food.
The community soup kitchen will be housed in the church’s activity center. Axis 1 Center of Barnwell will be the agency that qualifies people to receive tickets to the soup kitchen, although that process is not quite ready.
Anyone interested in learning more can contact First Baptist Church at (803) 259-1128 or email email@example.com.