ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Volunteers with the Lord's Pantry say it's the busiest summer in recent memory. We dropped by Thursday morning, and found the "closed" sign already on the front door, just two hours after opening at 7:30 a.m., having already met their daily maximum for people they can help.
Now, this long-time community safety net needs support, too.
It's been awhile since Albany resident Alma Tumor has visited the Lord's Pantry on West Society Avenue.
"This is the first time I have been here in three years or more," she said. "Like I say, hard times hit ya."
Hard times have hit Ms. Tumor, as they have many in Albany. She said her roof was damaged during the January storms, and still isn't repaired.
"I am a diabetic," she said. "I have to have a certain amount of food you know? I have to have a snack here, a snack there. And you gotta have three good meals. When you can't afford it, like I do, they helps me."
"Well, all of the places that were set up to give out food during and after the storm, they are closed," said Tom Wilburn, President of the Board of Directors and a volunteer for almost 18 years. "We are it."
"You know, sometimes I don't see how I am going to make it," Tumor said.
At 74, and on a fixed income, volunteers said Ms. Tumor is a typical client, seeking help to get over a financial hump.
"I have friends that help me some, but you feel guilty needing help all of the time," Tumor said.
But, she's clearly not alone.
"I will show you all the files we have, they are all paper files," said Wilburn.
Check the files and you will quickly notice that just half-way into 2017, the number of case files look to equal all of 2016.
"A lot of folks don't understand that they can't go out to the food bank and pick up food, " Wilburn said. "We are where the rubber meets the road. Here, this is where they come. They are referred by the food bank."
"You don't know how much I appreciate you. God bless you. The Lord is going to bless you because you do a lot," Ms. Tumor said to a volunteer as she walked away with three plastic bags of groceries.
During the week, the Lord's Pantry can serve 32 families a day. They rely solely on private donations and support from 31 churches.
It is all-volunteer run and overhead stays low.
They can access roughly five cans of food for $1 through a partnership with the Second Harvest Food Bank.
Second Harvest works with 450 partner agencies, like the Lord's Pantry, across Southwest Georgia to help provide hunger relief.
But, they need help accessing more food to meet the growing need, and make the monthly bills.
Although the temperature inside the building is very warm, the air conditioning bill last month was $530.
If you would like to make a financial donation to the Lord's Pantry, please call 229-435-0911.
You need to contact them during working hours, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m.
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