POMARIA — A food pantry that began in Shelvy Ham’s car trunk a decade ago has grown into a food bank building open to Pomaria and surrounding area residents.
“I wanted to make a difference,” Ham said. “God spoke to me to do this. It was first housed at Greater James A.M.E. Church in Pomaria and then extended to the community.”
Ham, a Pomaria native, is founder of the Pomaria Community Food Bank now located behind Wilson’s store. The food bank opened its doors Saturday morning with a grand opening and later opened to those in need.
The food bank will be open from noon to 3 p.m. every Thursday and Saturday. Patrons can get items from the food bank only once a month.
The five board members are Melinda Long, the Rev. Derald Edwards, Elsa Hope, Sondra Bowers and Brenda Livingston.
Ham calls Stan Griffin and Jimmy Wilson her angels: Wilson’s family owns the building and Griffin helped with repairs.
“We all got together and looked at this place and decided to open it,” she said about the vacant building turned food bank.
Edwards welcomed the crowd to the food bank’s grand opening with prayer and a dedication. Edwards is pastor of the Pomaria/St. John Lutheran parish.
“This is a great thing for the community,” Edwards said. “The churches have really come together and a host of volunteers have put the building in great shape to serve the needs of the community with food and clothing. People of all denominations have taken part.”
When Ham began her mission, she started with just food. Now the food bank delivers food and clothes to those in the area in need.
“My sister, Brenda, said it best when she said one person’s vision turned into a community mission,” said Ham, who was deterined to keep the food bank in Pomaria. “I can’t say it better than she said it. We (board members) all met and we decided we wanted to have it in downtown Pomaria.
“We got to remember what our purpose is and why we are here,” she added. “When one person is hungry, we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper.”
The building was used as a woodworking shop about two years ago and Wilson decided to let Ham use it since it was vacant.
Griffin helped clean out the building, helped paint and build some walls. He said it was definitely a community effort as others helped out in various areas.
Pomaria Mayor Darryl Hentz has also gotten involved as the Pomaria Ruritan Club made donations to the food bank.
“It’s a great service for the town, a good thing for the town,” said Hentz, who commended Wilson and his mother for allowing the food bank to use the building.
Area youth continue to help out the food bank.
Reagan White is a 9-year-old from Newberry who chose the Pomaria Community Food Bank as her community service for the Young Miss Newberry County pageant. She is also using it as she competes in the Young Miss South Carolina pageant this June.
“It’s for my community and I wanted to help the people that don’t have much food,” said White.
Matt Scott, 13, did a community service project for his Junior Beta Club and Boy Scout Troop 200.Scott helped during the renovation process as well as in other areas.
“I just heard about this and thought why not help,” he said. “I helped with floors, stocking food, cleaning up, organizing.”
Residents interested in donating or helping can contact Elsa Hope at 276-1988. Hope and her husband, Ron, will help out on Thursdays while Ham and Livingston will help out on Saturdays.