Fort Mill Care Center, Belair pantry gear up for holiday needs

joverman@fortmilltimes.comDecember 5, 2012 

— The Norman Rockwell-like images of families gathered together at the holidays around a table full of food aren’t a reality for every Fort Mill and Indian Land family. In some local homes, it’s a struggle for food to be put on the table for dinner every night, let alone for a special holiday meal.

That’s where the Fort Mill Care Center and the Food Pantry at Belair United Methodist Church step in.

Both groups are collecting food for less fortunate residents. At the Care Center, volunteers are preparing bags of foods to send with families to prepare a holiday meal. Right now, the biggest needs are small hams and chickens for small families and senior citizens; boxed potatoes and other traditional holiday meal sides dishes, cake and cookie mixes as well as pie crusts and fillings.

Something special for the families, like Christmas cookie mixes, candy canes or desserts would be a nice treat, Care Center Director Carol Higgins said.

“Think about if you were going out and buying groceries for Christmas, what would you buy?” she said.

The Fort Mill Care Center served 300 Thanksgiving dinners and expects to serve at least that many Christmas dinners. Donations for Christmas dinners need to be delivered before Dec. 19.

The Center frequently serves more than 400 families per month. In addition to the food pantry, the Care Center also offers clients help paying for utilities and other services.

Right now, money to help people pay utility bills is also a big need, Higgins said.

The Care Center doesn’t have the space to collect and store toys for Christmas gifts, so they work with area churches and community groups to sponsor Angel Trees for Care Center clients during the holidays.

But the toys clients receive from the Angel Trees “aren’t much fun if the power isn’t on and the water doesn’t run,” Higgins said.

The Fort Mill Center is located at 513 Banks St., Fort Mill. Hours are 9-noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For more, call 547-7620 or go to fortmillcarecenter.org.

Indian Land pantry needs help, too

In Indian Land, the Belair Food Pantry opens every two weeks and has recently been serving around 220 people every time the doors open.

“It has surprised me,” said organizer Shirley Mooney. “There are so many affluent communities here that you just don’t realize it is this bad.”

The Belair Food Pantry tries to send each family home with enough food for at least five meals or more when it can, one breakfast item and a few snacks. During the holidays the pantry hopes to send families home with a holiday meal. At Thanksgiving, volunteers were able to send every family – even a family of 11 – home with a full Thanksgiving dinner of canned ham, stuffing, rice, mashed potatoes, yams and vegetables. They also received a breakfast item and some laundry detergent and other household items.

For Christmas, the pantry wants to do the same and its asking people to donate items for the holiday meal as well as household items like detergent and toilet paper.

They also want to help parents who have kids out of school for the holidays and need food on hand that is easy for the students to fix themselves. Donations of macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, hot dogs, canned meat and bologna are needed.

The Food Pantry at the church has been open since Oct. 2010 and has grown rapidly from only eight people the first week to 220 last week.

The doors open again on Dec. 6 and then on Dec. 20. Donations can be made on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday from 9 to noon at the church office at 8095 Shelley Mullis Road or anytime by calling Mooney at 802-2679.

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