Volunteers crucial to local food ministry

  • National Guard
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Members of the North Carolina National Guard have been helping Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Food Ministry in Spruce Pine distribute boxes during its open markets. (Submitted)

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SPRUCE PINE – Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Food Ministry has grown significantly since it began in February of 2018, and the bigger it gets, the more help that is needed. 

Neighbors Feeding Neighbors has an open market every Monday at its location in the parking lot of Freedom Baptist Church on Road Road in Spruce Pine. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the need for food has increased, and so has the number of people willing to help. 

“For the past two weeks, we have had men and women from the Army National Guard helping us give out food,” said Allen Hoilman, co-director of the ministry with his wife, Amy. “We are partners with MANNA Food Bank, and they offered to send help. We had no idea it would be members of the National Guard.”

Allen said the volunteers from the National Guard are “super-good people” and are great with the ministry’s clients and children. This past Monday, May 4, Neighbors Feeding Neighbors volunteers handed out free food to 352 people and 60 MANNA packs for children.

“It’s really something to see these men and women in the National Guard serve the Lord and their country at the same time,” Allen said. “It would be tough to do what we have done for the past two weeks without their help.”

People all around the country are calling Allen about Neighbors Feeding Neighbors.

“I don’t even know how they heard about us, but they have,” Allen said. “I have gotten calls from Hawaii, New Jersey, Florida and just about anywhere else you can think of from people wanting to help. Not to mention all the local people who make what we do possible. I am blown away each day by the support we get.”

This past Monday, a man showed up with a mask and gloves and just started helping. Allen said he later found out he was Father Marcus Burch, Rector of St. John of the Ladder Orthodox Church in Greenville, South Carolina.

“We need as many people as we can get to help us,” Allen said. “We even delivered food to a homeless person in Spruce Pine this past Monday. The Lord has been good to us.”