Welcome to the Smith Chapel Food and Clothing Ministry
Video thanks to Athens County Jobs & Family Service, by Charles J. Dorsey
The pantry was born in 2000 when members of Smith Chapel United Methodist Church started selling used clothing for pennies to needy people. Before long they were bringing in canned goods and giving food to those who needed the clothes. It was then that volunteer Dannie Devol got the idea to expand.
"We had a food bank locally and I wanted to see if we qualified to get the food which, at that time, was 16 cents a pound." As a nonprofit organization, they qualified for discounted food from the regional food bank, which also provided free staples such as bread and produce. "So we took a little money out of the treasury and we got started," says Devol. With some church funds and additional contributions from the Devol family, a food-for-the-needy program was born. Devol, his wife Jane, and a half-dozen volunteers served as staffers.
On the first day, 17 families showed up for food. Before long it was 100. The food was distributed in the church parking lot from the beds of pickup trucks, and the country road in front of the church was jammed. Still the people came. "They might have a decent car and live in a house, but maybe they just lost a job. Some work in fast-food restaurants and can't make it on what they're paid. This is not just for the poor, poor, poor people, this is for the in-between, for the needy," Devol says.
Eventually, he and Jane moved the operation a short distance from the church to its present location in a building that they owned. The building was larger and had a bigger parking lot. They handed out staples on the second and the fourthpx Monday of every month to anyone who said they needed it. "If they'll stand in line in the cold freezing rain and wait for these groceries, they pretty much need it," he says simply.