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Faith & Family: Helping feed hungry residents keeps local church members busy

Mary Kathryn Carpenter / The Natchez Democrat — Deborah Gould and Alfred Lewis volunteer at the food bank at their church, Pilgrimage Missionary Baptist Church, at least two days out of the week so people who need assistance can receive a box of food.
Deborah Gould and Alfred Lewis volunteer at the food bank at their church, Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, at least two days out of the week so people who need assistance can receive a box of food. (Mary Kathryn Carpenter / The Natchez Democrat)

BY MARY KATHRYN CARPENTER

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Volunteering at the Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church Food Pantry has been close to the hearts of Deborah Gould and Alfred Lewis for years.

Gould, a member of the church, has been working with the food distribution program for eight years and enjoys every minute of the work.

“It puts a smile on my face to know I am making a difference,” Gould said. “My favorite part is knowing that everyone who gets these boxes of food is happy. Helping people means the world to me”

Gould serves as the intake clerk. In this position, she files away forms of those who will be receiving food from the food bank so that everyone who is in need gets their share.

Gould spends two days a week working with the program. On Tuesdays, she helps assemble boxes of food to be distributed every Thursday to nearly 700 people around the community who are in need.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s something I love,” Gould said. “It’s in my heart, and I can’t take it out.”

Rose Lewis, director of the pantry operations, considers Gould’s persistence to be a part of the pantry’s inner workings invaluable.

“Deborah tells me to call her whenever I’m working,” Rose said. “If she passes the church and sees my car here, she will call me and see if I need help. She is a strong, dedicated worker.”

Rose also counts on her husband, Alfred, to help out when it comes time to feed the masses.

Alfred has been volunteering with the food pantry for three years and is the assistant director of the program.

“I needed to find some volunteer work to do,” Alfred said. “The Lord led me to help. I’m retired, so I decided to do some work for the Lord.”

Alfred works five days a week helping out to get everything ready for pick-up on Thursdays.

He picks up donations for the pantry three days a week, helps box up food on Tuesdays and directs traffic at Pilgrim Missionary Baptist church on Thursdays during food pick-ups.

“It takes up quite a bit of time,” Alfred said. “The most rewarding part is knowing you are helping someone who needs it. You don’t realize how many people in Adams County need assistance until you do this kind of work.”

Rose finds both Deborah and Alfred helpful hands when it comes to making sure the citizens of Natchez have a bite to eat.

“I’m grateful for both of them,” Rose said. “I rely on them so much. They are very dependable. I can’t run the operation without them.”