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Food Pantry Receives Donation After Busy Year
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Dec 5, 2012, 15:17

photo by Caitlin Davis Rocky Shearin, of Calvary’s Love Ministry, presents a donation to Food Pantry chair, Dick Commander.

Located in the heart of downtown Hopewell, the Hopewell Food Pantry has been in the city since the early 1980s. Since that time, the organization has helped thousands of families put food on the table.

Pastor Rocky Shearin, of Calvary’s Love Ministry, was at the Pantry last week to give the Food Pantry a donation that will help it continue its work.

“I think it’s a blessing in the community,” Shearin said. “It’s right here, where we are.”

Shearin presented Dick Commander, chairman of the board for the Hopewell Food Pantry, with a $700 check that was gathered at a city wide Thanksgiving service given by eight pastors and the chaplain at John Randolph Medical Center.

Shearin said he was approached by another minister who said there was a need at the Food Pantry for financial assistance and wondered if he would consider taking up an offering. Shearin said he happy to oblige.

“Helping the needy reflects the heart of Jesus,” Shearin said. “And he has commissioned us to do that.”

Commander said the Food Pantry helps over 1,000 families a month, 12,000 a year. The number of clients has grown dramatically, Commander said, recalling a time when the Food Pantry only served about 2,500 families.

Shearin said he hopes the money provides some meals to local families who may be able to free up other funds as the holidays approach.

“Families want to provide something for the children at Christmas,” Shearin said. “So if this can help them free up a little money that would be able to buy something and still put something on the table, that’s part of the big picture here.”

Commander said that the Food Pantry’s budget reflects the increase of people coming through the doors.

“This economy has not helped this food pantry in the sense that we’ve got a lot of clients,” Commander said. “Our budget used to be $25,000 a year, and this year it’s $80,000.”

The Food Pantry also receives donations from the Panera Bread in Colonial Heights, Food Lion at the Crossings, Pizza Hut at the Crossings and Goya Warehouse in Prince George. Commander said most major churches in Hopewell are supporters of the Food Pantry as well as the Salvation Army and the Central Virginia Food Bank.

Though the Food Pantry has received grants from the Cameron Foundation and the John Randolph Foundation, Commander said other community members have also shown their generosity time and time again.

“People in Hopewell are so generous, very generous people,” Commander said. “And I get calls, money in the mail and all this kind of stuff from people who really want to help. We’re a Hopewell organization, we’ve been here a long time and they know we do good work.”

Part of that work came over the Thanksgiving holiday when the Food Pantry was able to purchase and provide 200 turkeys and 100 hams to clients. The United Way, John Randolph Foundation and one of the churches in the community contributed the $2,000 that allowed the Food Pantry to provide the special holiday items.

For Commander, helping others has become his new job. After retiring from Hercules, which is now Ashland Chemical, after over 30 years, Commander wanted to do something different with his time. He said he reached out to Vice-Mayor Wayne Walton, who worked with Commander at Hercules, for the name of an organization the could volunteer with, and Walton recommend the Food Pantry.

“I’m very proud to be the leader of it,” Commander said.

As Commander looked around at the bags on the table ready to hand out to families and the shelves of food and carts full of donated items, he said he was proud to continue making sure that food ends up on local tables.

“I chose to volunteer in my retirement years and I have done other things,” Commander said. “I love this ministry and I love Hopewell. Believe it or not, Hopewell is a great place.”

To meet the increased demand, the Hopewell Food Pantry needs donations of funds and food.

Monetary donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 1532, Hopewell, VA 23860.

Food donations can be delivered to the Food Pantry at 212 E. Broadway in Hopewell from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

For more information, call (804) 530-3546.

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