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Pantry readying for Thanksgiving

Volunteers are lined up at the doors and thousands of canned goods are at The Pantry ready to ensure those in need of a wholesome Thanksgiving Day meal in Lafayette County get one.

Deborah Bone, who serves on The Pantry’s board of directors and is helping manage the food bank this month, said last week was probably the busiest of the year at the facility on Molly Barr Road next to the police station.

“We served around 160 families last week,” Bone said. “A normal week is about 70 to 80. We expect Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, to also be pretty busy and probably see around 90 families.”

Volunteer groups have stepped up to the plate to get ready. Roughly 18 groups were involved in some way.

“We’ve had a ton of community support, tons of volunteers last week all throughout the day and lots of groups at night,” she said. “That’s been a huge help. A motorcycle club brought two truckloads of canned goods — we’re talking a thousand cans. The whole beds of the pickup trucks were filled. We had some great groups. A couple of Ole Miss journalism classes probably brought close to a thousand cans as well. We’ve had some super great support.”

The Pantry is fairly well stocked with vegetables, but one thing it needs is cranberry sauce. It is completely out, and that’s something families would like for their Thursday get-togethers. Bone said it is also always in need of canned fruits, canned soups and canned meats like tuna fish or chicken.

Bone said she is situated with volunteers for this week, and is grateful for them. They will be preparing for Wednesday’s 9 to 11 a.m. opening. Normally the food bank is open both Wednesday and Thursday during those hours, but it will be closed this Thursday for the holiday. The Pantry, which has about 3,000 visits a year, helps those with income limitations or who are on various forms of government assistance or disability.

“There’s a lot of unawareness that there are so many people in Lafayette County that are in need, and many of us are so blessed that it’s time for us to give back to organizations like The Pantry to help those who are in need,” Bone said. “Many people think of Oxford as a wealthy community. Numbers may say that but there’s a lot of poverty in Lafayette County.”

Bone said residents can donate time, money or food year-round. Now is an obvious time for donations during the holidays, but the spring and summer months can be a challenge.

“Food drives don’t need to just happen during the winter months,” she said. “Many of the Ole Miss students are gone in the summer, and we don’t have those students to do drives in the summer months.”

Bone said The Pantry is an easy way to give back, and encourages residents to get involved.

“I stress the importance of giving back — being involved in your community,” she said. “Giving back is one of those things I was taught by both of my parents. My mom taught me when you’re having bad days, just volunteer. Give back, find someone in need and give back, and it will make you feel so much better. It’s one of the mottos I live by, to just always give back and in turn it will bless you.”