Responding to the coronavirus pandemic’s economic crisis and a hefty donation, the Salvation Army has a food bank it opens each Thursday.
Anyone can go for the free shopping in this food bank that’s called “Thank God It’s Thursday,” Salvation Army Lt. Bradley Mumford said. The only limitation is that each family can get the food once a month.
The Thank God It’s Thursday food bank is open from 9 a.m. to noon, and the “shopping” is limited to one member per family, following standard pandemic precaution practices.
Social distancing is practiced during the process. Only two people , aside from the volunteers and staff, are allowed in the building at one time. Ten can be in line outside – with waiting spots marked at 6-foot distances – and others wait outside in their cars.
Between the entrance and the food-distribution room is a sign-in area. It has information about the coronavirus and how it spreads, along with sanitation products including rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer and sanitizing spray. Each shopper receives a face mask and gloves to wear.
Inside, the food is arranged in neat rows on two long rows of tables, with more food in boxes under the tables and in stacks along the walls. Offerings include Snapple drinks, sports drinks, Cheetos snacks, cereal, oatmeal, rice cakes, cookies, M&Ms, sunflower seeds, pretzels and sweetened dried cranberries.
People can end up with plenty of food, the volunteers said. It’s common for some to leave carrying four or five bags full, Sherrill Esdaile said.
Others helping her that day were her son, Marcus Esdaile, and Page Rogers and Carolyn Hudson.
The Esdaile family is recuperating from a house fire. Their home on Stoney Mountain Road in Axton was destroyed by fire on a Saturday night before the Thursday the mother-and-son team was volunteering.
“And they’re here today dedicating their time” to helping others, Mumford said. “Marcus stands out there with me for hours on end serving meals to homeless people.”
“When I commit to something, I try” to do it, Sherrill Esdaile said.
Although the Salvation Army said they are excited about the Thank God It’s Friday, not enough people know about it, they said. On one recent week, only 10 people came for food.
The Salvation Army has other food programs as well, such as the Red Shield Gift Card. That allows families to buy meat, vegetables, fruits, cleaning supplies, baby supplies and paper goods, among other things, that are beyond the scope of the Thursday giveaways.
The Red Shield Gift Card is funded by donors and distributed to families in the community based on need and family size, according to its website. For more information and to donate, visit www.redshieldgiftcard.com.
The Salvation Army is at 603 Memorial Blvd., and its phone number is 276-638-7259.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article included incorrect hours for operation.
Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.
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