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December 20, 2014

Littlest in Homer provide a hand

PantryJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Homer Congregational Church preschoolers visit Tiny Hughes at the Homer United Methodist Church food pantry Thursday in Homer.

By KATIE KEYSER
Living and Leisure Editor

Tiny Hughes said there are more people getting free food this year than last from the First United Methodist Church Food Pantry.
“I had 14 families come in two weeks ago! That surprised me. But we did it. We got them supplied,” said the manager of the pantry.
So when the children at the Homer Nursery School next door at the Homer Congregational Church trooped in with more donations Thursday, she was thrilled.
“I think it’s wonderful for the little guys to do something like that for us. You are never too old or too young to give to the needies,” she said.
Nineteen children in the half day school for 3 to 5 year olds, staffed by Lisa Clark, director, and two teachers, carried food over to the pantry Thursday. Parent volunteer Kristen Hayes pushed a cart with a box full of food. “The kids did great!” Hayes said.
“We do this every year,” said Clark.
Staff erect a tree and place an empty box and explain to the children there are families out there who need food.
“We’re trying to help them out ... I send out a newsletter to parents to let them know. We get as much food as we can in December,” Clark said.
The small school, which runs three days a week, has been in existence over 30 years, she said.
Tracy Bertram of Homer has two children, 4-year-old twins, in the program. She is on the all volunteer board of directors, mostly parents of children in the school.
“I think it’s neat that they are learning to share, to give, and to be thinking of all they have in life ... and that others need help,” she said.
They are getting it, she said. They have a tough time figuring out what “non-perishable goods” are though, she said.
“Are these noodles spoilers?” they’ll ask her.
The children dressed in their winter clothes to deliver the food next door, crowding around Hughes in the small pantry. “Over here is mac and cheese ...”
“I love macaroni and cheese,” one child exclaimed. “I see Marshmallow Fluff!” one girl said with excitement.
“Thank you Miss Tiny!” they told her after supplying the pantry.
Hughes was excited. She is seeing donations come in from all fronts of the community: Royal Motors car dealership, Marietta Corp., the U.S. Post Office, the Homer Senior Center, which passes on Christmas presents for its participants who donate there, instead, Hughes said. And the Congregational Church next door are huge suppliers. The Phillips Free Library, which forgave their patrons their library fines if they brought in food donations, was a first time donor this year, as was Assemblyman Gary D. Finch’s office, which circulates donations among the districts, Hughes said. Finch’s office chose the Homer pantry this year. United Way is also a big help.
The pantry, open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays, is supplying food for 40 families for Christmas and gave out food to 194 people in a year’s time, Hughes said.
“I am so pleased with the little guys,” she said.
Between their contributions and Finch’s office, the whole pantry was restocked, she said.
She looked over an exterior table laden down from food.
“And we have toilet paper!” she said. “And paper towels (from Finch’s office)! We don’t get toilet paper or paper towels. Scott!” she said, looking at the 36 pack of rolls. “That’s $18.”

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