Volunteers help pack the pantry

Joe Leblanc Food Pantry prepares for Christmas

Ethan Jeffus has been coming to the Joe Leblanc Food Pantry for a year and a half to help assemble the monthly food distributions. Wednesday morning, Jeffus and other members of the community came together to pack the usual food bags as well as special Christmas meals.

“Since the first time I came, I saw the need in the community and how much the food helped the families,” he said.

“So I became dedicated to helping families in need.”

The volunteers packed hundreds of bags full of groceries for low-income community members. In addition to the regular provisions, 600 Christmas turkeys were brought in as part of the “Feed a Family” effort this holiday season.

Jeffus, 15, said he has seen personal evidence of the impact of their efforts on the community.

“I met a women who used to be a nurse, and then she got cancer in her leg,” he said. “She lost her job, and she’s taking care of a big family. She came last year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She didn’t have any money for food, so the food we gave her really helped her last through the month.”

Over the past week and a half, over 200 volunteers have come through the JLFP to help get ready for distribution on Saturday. These include groups from Minden High School, Lakeside Junior-Senior High School, a local homeschooling group, and various offices and churches.

Among the volunteers Wednesday morning was Diane Funderburk with American Bikers Active Towards Education of Louisiana. Funderburk said she is driven to volunteer because she has been in the shoes of those less fortunate.

“I’ve been where they are before,” she said. “I’ve had five children, and I’ve been where that need was. And now that God has blessed me, I want to be able to bless somebody else.”

Funderburk said she understands the effect that help from the food pantry can have on families just trying to get by.

“This means a whole lot to these families,” she said. “Some of these families are going to do without this Christmas.

This food here will go a long way to help them, maybe even to let them get their child something for Christmas.”

The JLFP is a ministry of the Christian Church at Minden and operates out of the former Northwest Louisiana Technical College building on Constable Street. Distribution will take place Saturday, December 16 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Jeffus said he hopes those who receive the food will feel blessed and inspired to give back.

“My hope is that they know somebody is there for them,” he said. “They’re not going to be down forever, and when they get themselves back up, my hope is that they come back and realize that there is a need and that they can help too.”

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