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Season of Wishes: It’s more than just food, Feed the Hungry looking for donations of any kind

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Volunteer Diana Jones sorts through children’s and babies’ clothing to put out Saturday afternoon at the Lighthouse Thrift Store next to the Vidalia First Assembly of God. The thrift store raises money for the Feed the Hungry program put on by the church. Feed the Hungry accepts donations of food and other products that assist needy families in the Miss-Lou.

vidalia — Feed the Hungry Director Linda Bonnette is not picky about the items she will consider to stock the 50-pound boxes that go out to approximately 215 people in the Miss-Lou that receive the program’s services.

“We’ve had soap, hand wash, toothpaste, all kinds of stuff that’s not edible,” Bonnette said. “We try to find hard to get things that people can use. We were tickled pink when we got cooking oil to give people, so they could cook a nice meal.”

But each holiday season, Bonnette always sets her sights on giving at least one family a treat.

“My fondest wish around Thanksgiving and Christmas is to get a turkey,” she said. “That’s something that would be great, if we could give them all that turkey.”

The number of people receiving Feed the Hungry’s services fluctuates from time to time, but Bonnette said there is always a need for donations.

“Anything (the community) would like to bring to give us as a donation is great,” she said.

Donations can be brought to First Assembly of God in Vidalia, and items are given out the last Saturday of each month, except this month when boxes will be distributed the Saturday before Christmas. Approximately 10,000 to 15,000 pounds of food and other items are distributed each month.

Feed the Hungry services anyone who needs help, Bonnette said, no matter where in Louisiana or Mississippi they live. Bonnette said she wanted to help every one regardless of where they live, when the program started approximately 15 years ago.

But even more recently — May 3 — First Assembly of God opened up a thrift store to help support Feed the Hungry and provide even more items for families in need.

Bonnette helps run the Lighthouse Thrift Store, which sits next door to the church, and money made from thrift store purchases goes toward church programs, including Feed the Hungry.

When former church pastor Albert Fraley approached Bonnette about the idea, he said he wanted the church to be a lighthouse for the Miss-Lou community, Bonnette said. That’s where the name came from, and that is why Bonnette keeps a collection of ornamental lighthouses on the front desk of the store.

“Anytime a new piece comes in, I think about how that is exactly what we wanted this to be,” she said.

Monetary donations for Feed the Hungry are accepted as well as food and other items. Cash, check or money orders can be made to Feed the Hungry and mailed to the First Assembly of God Church at 4810 U.S. 84, Vidalia, LA, 71373.

For more information or to inquire about donations, contact Bonnette at 318-336-8748 or 318-719-9760.