HOOVER, AL (WBRC) - A church in Hoover is following a long tradition of helping families and individuals who are struggling financially over the holidays.
On Monday and Tuesday, Green Valley Baptist Church on Patton Chapel Road is expanding its food bank to include a Santa Shop.
“First they start in our food bank, go through and get their food for the month,” explained Anna Davidson, the Communications Director for Green Valley Baptist Church. Davidson said they then, “get to go through the different rooms and shop for their kids for their Christmas gifts.”
All of those toys, sports equipment, clothes, and dozens of other items are free. The Santa Shop was started more than a decade ago to help families already getting help from the food bank. They collect donations all year, holding a big toy drive in August.
“We just want everybody to feel the love of Christmas this season,” said Davidson.
“We had one lady go through who had just had twins. She only had one because the other is in the hospital,” explained Mary McCain, the USDA Room Coordinator. “As we gave her all the stuff, tears began to roll, and she said she did not know what she would do without Green Valley Baptist Church."
“The theme for all of our volunteers is to be joyful and to be generous,” continued Davidson. “That’s really what we want people to experience as they come through the food bank.”
The food bank was started 30 years ago in 1988.
“People were coming to the door of our church, asking for food, and we didn’t have enough money to help everybody," said Rebecca Donnelly, who has been with the food bank since the beginning.
“There is food insecurity everywhere,” explained Joan Splawn, the Pantry Coordinator.
Davidson says between 200 and 250 people are helped each month by the food bank, including several senior citizens.
“Even though they might get food stamps, they still need help in addition to that," said Donnelly.
The food bank is held on the third Tuesday of each month, but was moved up and expanded an extra day this month because of the holidays. The program is funded by Green Valley Baptist Church, and supported by other local civic clubs, churches, and people in the community.
“We’re always open for donations,” said Davidson.
The church is also always in need of volunteers. You can contact the church for more information.
Everyone involved in making the food bank a success describe it as a blessing to be able to help people.
“I feel like it’s more of a blessing to me sometimes than it is to them," said Splawn.
“I’ve been able to help people in away I never dreamed I could,” explained Donnelly.