A group of cousins recently got together to raise money for a good cause. Two six-year-olds, Talan Yowell and Makenzie Ince, along with three-year-old Emma Ince, manned a lemonade stand on Morris Street in Sweetwater earlier this week. All of their proceeds went to Gaylord's Pantry, the food pantry at First United Methodist Church in Sweetwater.
The pantry's goal is to help those who are having trouble affording enough food for their families and/or themselves. Food is either donated — Wal-Mart and Brookshire's are supporters — or is purchased from the Food Bank of West Central Texas. The pantry's funds come from many places. Funding comes through a partnership between the Ministerial Alliance and First United Methodist Church. Donations also come from First Methodist Church members, the community and a FEMA grant from the City of Sweetwater, plus other donations.
An order is placed to the Food Bank in Abilene. A church member will then take a trailer to Abilene and pick up the food. Sierra Satellite Systems in Sweetwater generously donates the use of a trailer to pick up the food. Once the food reaches the church, it is unloaded and placed in storage until it is given out.
Persons wishing to receive food from the pantry are screened by an outside agency to see if they meet the necessary requirements. After passing the screening, they are registered for one year. Exceptions to the screening process are made on an emergency basis and are limited to one visit. Trips to the pantry are limited to twice a month.
Clients getting food first sign in with one of the volunteers at the pantry. After signing in they are then directed to Gaylord Williams. Gaylord makes sure the pantry is stocked and the sacks are filled. He decides what will be in the sacks each month. Each month a new variety of items make up the ‘menu’ for that month. The food pantry usually orders around 8000+ pounds of food each month and they average 550-650 sacks of food given out each month.