Welcome sight: Empty Pantry Fund fills needs of community
By Linda Braden Albert | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Empty Pantry Fund delivery day will be Dec. 16 this year. Volunteers will meet at the Tennessee Army National Guard Armory at 6 a.m. and follow their established routes to take food, as well as toys provided through Junior Service League of Maryville’s Toys for Blount County, to the homes of people in need of Christmas cheer.
Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell is one of those volunteers. He has supported the Empty Pantry Fund for many years, delivering food and toys with retired EPF chairman Paul Bales on a route in one of the more rural areas of Blount County.
Mitchell, who now serves as vice president of the Empty Pantry Fund Board of Directors, understands the importance of this annual community service.
“People say we deliver to people that don’t need it, but in fact, you’d be surprised at how many people truly need the bag of food and the toys,” Mitchell said.
He can tell you many stories in illustration. Stories like the year he and his fellow delivery volunteers drove a half-mile down a dirt driveway to a trailer, where four dogs stood barking.
“We pulled in, the dogs were barking, and when we got out, the dogs ran up underneath the trailer,” Mitchell recalled. “We got the bags of food and a box of toys, walked up to the front door, and when the man opened the front door, the four dogs were standing at the door.
“The floor had rotted out of the trailer in the hallway, and the dogs were using the hole to go in and out of the trailer. There were kids there, probably four of five people living there. It was cold.”
And there’s the time they went into the living room of a trailer when a cold snow was falling outside.
“They had a four-stack electric heater and had blankets hung up at either end of the living room they were all in,” Mitchell said. “There were six to seven people all huddled in that room, with that four-stack heater. It was so cold outside, we had all been cold all day during delivery and went into that trailer — they were all sitting there, and you could still see your breath in that trailer. There were kids there, laying on the couch with blankets over them.”
Some elderly residents depend on the food each year.
“We were delivering to a house where we had always delivered to, unloading the food,” Mitchell said. “There was an elderly lady living there that was just as sweet as she could be. She was always so glad to see us, she loved Paul (Bales) ... While we were there, the phone rang. It was another elderly lady that lived down the road. She was calling to say she was afraid we had forgotten about her and that we weren’t going to deliver to her this year. The lady we were delivering to said we were at her house and would be there as soon as we finished. When we got to the house of the lady that had called, she told us she was worried to death that we forgot her. She was a sweetheart, too, loved Paul to death. One thing I remember about this is, she passed away just a few months after that.”
Donations to date
Empty Pantry Fund donations to date include:
BALANCE FORWARD, $28,808.63
In memory of Don Spangler, $100In memory of Curtis Lowe from Barbara Lowe, $50
In memory of Bob and Riley from Cecilia Bales, $100
Norma Stokes, $125
Marvin and Jimmie Eaves, $100
Henry and Shirley Law, $100
Steve and Janice Walker, $50
Rambling Acres FCE Club, $30
Carroll-Betty Peabody, $50
James Keeble, $100
In memory of husband, brothers and sisters from Deanna Tipton, $100
Phyllis Scholes, $25
Bennie McCardel, $100
Col. (Ret.) Thomas S. Roberts and Brenda Roberts, $150
Annamaria and John Gundlach, $25
Broadway United Methodist, Iva Moore Class, $150
Gaye Carol and Harry Guinter, $25
Edward Compton, $25
In memory of Walter J. Goddard, $50
Jerry and Susan Roberts, $100
Barbara and Bryan Steverson, $100
Susan P. Rice, $15
J.R. and Sharon Young, $100
First Cumberland Presbyterian Church Character Builders Sunday School Class, $300
Dennis and Wanda Ryniec, $20
Rob Goddard, $100
Arthur and Eula Gray Goddard, $150
VFW Post #10855, $200
Judy and Raleigh Dixon, $100
Knights of Columbus Council #3832, $200
In memory of Don R. Watson by Dorothy Watson, $100
Jerry and Betty Hurst, $50
Carole Bivens, $50
In memory of Walter B. Bivens Sr., Walter B. Bivens Jr., Bertha Bivens and Naomie Bivens, $200
TOTAL — THANK YOU, $32,113.63