Nourishing body and soul: Caring Hearts food program gets off to fast start
By DK McDONALD The Daily News Jun 11, 2015
FORT MOHAVE — Caring Hearts Ministry is providing food and more for the body and the soul.
The nonprofit food bank, a ministry of Amazing Grace Fellowship Church, revamped its food pantry program in February and, since the doors opened in March, has provided emergency food boxes to more than 5,500 people.
“We’re a part of St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance,” said Rev. Bobby Altice, program director for Caring Hearts Food Bank Ministry. “Every week we’ve been open, we’ve seen more and more people. We project by the end of the year we’ll have provided 20,000 to 25,000 boxes of food.”
St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance is one of the largest food banks in the United States, distributing food to those who need it through a network of partner agencies in 13 of Arizona’s 15 counties. The majority of those served by the food bank’s emergency food box program are Arizona’s working poor, living at or below the federal poverty threshold.
“The emergency food boxes are supplemented by donations and food we purchase,” Altice said.
The food pantry is located behind Amazing Grace Fellowship Church, 4195 Lynn Drive. The food pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Along with the bags of produce, volunteers provide information on local resources for those in need.
“People come in and are embarrassed to ask for help,” Altice said. “I tell them that I’ve been there and done that, there is no need to be embarrassed, everyone needs help sometimes. The programs available in the area are amazing; I can’t say enough good things about these programs. People just need to know where to go for help.”
Plans for the program don’t stop with food.
“Amazing Grace Pastor Josiah Drawhorn is a Marine veteran who served two tours in Vietnam,” Altice said. “Several of us are Army veterans and there are even a couple of Navy veterans here. In three weeks, we’ll be kicking off our veterans program, Operation Feed Our Veterans. Our goal is to bring together service connections for benefits and health issues. We’re working with a variety of organizations to support not only the veterans and their families, but also widows and widowers of veterans.”
In addition to a Thursday food pantry for veterans and their families, Caring Hearts will offer a clothes closet, furniture and household goods.
“We are collecting donations of everything,” Altice said. “You name it, we need it. We’re desperate for clothing, furniture and household goods like dishes. Our only requirement for donations is that the items be in good condition. If we wouldn’t wear or use it, we won’t give it out.”
The Caring Hearts program runs on volunteers.
“I enjoy this place,” said Joyce Escher. “The church is awesome and has wonderful teamwork. It’s a great feeling to help people out, I love it.”
“I’ve been with Amazing Grace for eight years,” said volunteer Earl C. Spencer. “I’ve been helping with the food pantry since we started it. I like being around people and I enjoy what I do.”
“I’m so proud that every person who works here volunteers their time,” Altice said. “They give us lots of hours, use their own gas to deliver to other food pantries — they are so willing to help.”