Downtown ministry's years of giving celebrated

134 tons of food went out in last year's effort

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For 18 years, Myles Christie has helped put food into the hands of the hungry by volunteering with Downtown Cooperative Church Ministries.

Travis McNeal, of Golden Harvest Food Bank, presents Joe Johnson with a plaque commemorating the ministry's 35th anniversary.   LISA KAYLOR/STAFF
LISA KAYLOR/STAFF
Travis McNeal, of Golden Harvest Food Bank, presents Joe Johnson with a plaque commemorating the ministry's 35th anniversary.

On Friday, he was one of nearly 75 volunteers and their family members who attended the ministry’s 35th anniversary dinner, which was held at St. John United Methodist Church.

“This ministry has blessed my spirit, to see the help that it has done over the years,” he said. “All the money (it receives) goes back into the community, into the food. If we get more money, we get more food.”

The ministry began in 1978 when five churches and Augusta Urban Ministries decided to pool resources and volunteers to provide a central location to help those in need, said Margaret Brubaker, who has volunteered with the organization for 33 years.

The first year, she said, it had a budget of $3,000 to purchase food for the food pantry. Last year, the ministry’s 15 member churches pledged $72,000, which allowed for the distribution of 134 tons of food purchased from Golden Harvest Food Bank.

“We buy it by the pound, so we actually have a known figure,” she said.

More than 17,000 parcels of food, packaged according to family size, were distributed, she said.

The ministry has about 40 regular volunteers who operate the food bank on Eighth Street five days a week.

Brubaker said nearly every day someone is turned away because the need is so great, but the resources only go so far. Usually there is enough food to serve about 75 families a day.

Brubaker said the organization is actively recruiting more churches.

“Once we get more money, we can increase the amount of food we get and we can serve more people,” she said.

Travis McNeal, Golden Harvest’s executive director, presented group President Joe Johnson with a plaque commemorating the ministry’s 35 years of service.

McNeal said Golden Har­vest grew from the vision of the ministry.

“The heartbeat of who we are and the passion from which we were birthed came out of your passion, and the downtown churches that knew something must be done,” McNeal said. “A seed was planted and something was put in the ground that God knew would grow to the place where it needed to be to become a food bank, to be able to support the 300 agencies that we’re blessed to support in 30 counties.”

To learn more about the ministry or to make a donation, visit dccmaugusta.org.

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