MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A week ago, the volunteers at the Resource & Emergencies for Area People Pantry were caught off-guard.
The line of people who showed up to the open hours for the food pantry filled the seats in the hallway outside of the small, back-corner room. By the time the night was over, more than 75 people had been helped and the shelves inside were bare.
“There was nothing, hardly anything left in the pantry,” Pam Bryant said. “I told them at church on Sunday and they just started bringing stuff in.”
Bryant is the lay leader at the Wolf Lake United Methodist Church, out of which the REAP Pantry is operated. She said though the numbers of the congregation are not as strong as they’ve been, the people they have are committed to helping their neighbors. When she put out the request on Sunday for items for the pantry, the shelves were full again within a matter of days.
“We want to help the community, because these are people that we know. These are people that we love. These are people we grew up with. These are their grandkids,” Bryant said. “We don’t want to just leave them with nothing.”
Bryant said her family, like many others in the Muskegon Oakridge community, has deep roots: Her grandparents were charter members of the church and she was in the first class at Oakridge High School. She has been heavily involved her entire life and knows the needs of this community.
“I have been in the school and was on the school board and I do the Kid’s Hope. It’s amazing how many people really don’t have anything,” Bryant said.
It’s for that reason she and a small group of volunteers work out of the small pantry at the church. It’s an outreach that’s a small but mighty ministry.
“You don’t have to be big. You just have to have a heart for God and let God work through you. And it works. It does,” Bryant said.
She said she is amazed by how many people the pantry is serving year over year and anticipates higher numbers and greater needs as the holidays near. Over nine months last year, the pantry served more than 1,200 people.
“Anybody can come. We don’t turn anybody away and they don’t have to qualify,” Bryant said.
Muskegon Oakridge students collected 1,278 pounds of food for REAP this week. That brings the season total for the Football Frenzy Food Drive to 51,938 pounds.
Learn more about the REAP Pantry here.