September 2017, marks the 9th anniversary of Manna Ministries, the Leland Area food pantry. What started as a pilot project has become a monthly event in the Leland Area.
How it started
In April of 2008, several pastors and church leaders were gathered together to speak with the executive leadership of Shallotte based, Brunswick Family Assistance, regarding community assistance needs. One of the pastors suggested that the area was in real need of a food pantry. Plans were then laid out to “try out” a pantry in the Fall of 2008, with the backing of Brunswick Family Assistance.
A goal of feeding 100 families a month was set, with an estimated need of $900 per month in food or cash. After working all summer to raise awareness and food supplies, the group was still over $700 short. Just days before the first food distribution, a phone call came in from an acquaintance of one of the pastors, asking for a quick meeting. At the meeting, the individual said that they were touched by a recent message about the food pantry. Their family had to make tough choices when they were growing up, and the need struck a chord. At the meeting, the person said “I decided to give you my ‘mad’ money. I was going to spend it on things for me. I want you to have it for the food pantry.” It was $750 - exactly enough to meet the financial goal for the first month.
This was just one of the MANY small miracles that have occurred since we started.
Exactly 10 days after Manna began serving, the New York Stock Exchange experienced its largest crash in history, as the largest recession in recent times became evident.
We didn’t build this – God saw the need, and did it!
After an encouraging visit by our local U.S. Congressman, he commented that it was truly a “loaves and fishes” miracle at work.
The food pantry was first held monthly, outdoors, on the grounds of Victory Church on Wayne Street in Leland. The weather extremes are brutal, but the volunteers are always steadfast in their task.
Amazingly, it did not rain on the day of the food distribution, from October 2008 to December 2011. One time it rained right up to 9 am when the pantry started, and then quit until after everything was cleaned up. Another time it misted off and on, but it did not rain. In August of 2011, hurricane Irene closed the whole town, so we did not serve at all that month. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy rained us out.
Thank you Lord for protecting us from the elements.
God Changes Wrong To Right
One day, one of the volunteers received a phone call, it was a wrong number. The caller was actually looking for a specific charity in Wilmington, so they could give a donation. The volunteer struck up a conversation and said, “Maybe this call was not a coincidence, let me tell you about our local food pantry…” This turned into a monthly commitment that has been much more than a wrong number.
In November of 2008, when the volunteers came to unlock and set up, there was already a line of over 100 waiting in sub-freezing temperatures. The pantry gave out all they had and sent for more. In less than two hours, the fledgling pantry had given out groceries to 225 families. The volunteers restocked and re-opened 3 days later and served 50 more families.
Looking back, the economy crashed the autumn of 2008. We didn’t know it at the time, but our neighbors were feeling it. In God’s providence, He began planning for the need in the Spring of 2008. Since then, over a dozen churches, neighborhoods, businesses, civic, political and even government organizations have come to help – all in the name of Jesus.
In January of 2011, Manna moved to the back door of Closer Walk Church, behind the Food Lion on Village Road. Our gracious hosts have provided cabinets, tables, helpers and energy – all for free. We are so grateful! In June of 2011, Manna became a stand-alone organization. We are very thankful for the help received from Brunswick Family Assistance to get us started.
We thank God for making this ministry thrive.
Thank you to our monthly donors:
Closer Walk Church – facilities and breakfast cereal Grace Point Church – peanut butter Oasis Church – Mac and Cheese Zion UMC – rice Leland Church of God – pasta sauce Woodburn Presbyterian - applesauce
A special thanks go out to all the others who give, and work quietly in the background.
100% of undesignated dollars donated go to food. 100% of food goes to families in the North Brunswick area. 0% comes from taxpayer dollars. Each month we expect 125 families who come to receive food and we serve them all with love and patience, in less than two hours. Each family receives a box of food appropriate to the number of people in the home. Since we began in 2008, our monthly food expenses have risen from $900 a month in the early days to $2000 today, yet God has provided!