AWENDAW—One local church continues to help hungry neighbors while continuing to keep its congregation safe and socially distant.
Point Hope United Methodist Church is located in the Park West neighborhood of bustling North Mount Pleasant. Thirteen miles away sits a much quieter town of Awendaw, with a population of about 1,500 people. In Awendaw, there is a United Methodist church along Highway 17 called Ocean Grove.
In May 2008 Ocean Grove’s congregation saw a need for a food pantry in their community. Bobbie Gallager runs the pantry and has been a member of Ocean Grove UMC for 29 years. She has also served as lay leader, treasurer and chair of trustees.
“The funding and food donations for the pantry come strictly from donations,” said Gallager.
In 2011, Point Hope UMC decided to help the church to its north and make the food pantry one of its ongoing mission projects. Focusing on the first Sunday of every month, the congregation brings nonperishable items to the church. Point Hope donates between 100 and 200 pounds of food for the pantry which currently serves between 100 and 150 families. Each family represents one to eight people.
In addition to the donations from Point Hope, the pantry is also a partnering agency with the Lowcountry Food Bank and relies on donations from three churches in McClellanville.
“Selfishly, I love working with Bobbie Gallager,” said Point Hope Pastor Elizabeth Sullivan. “She shows each and every person that comes to the food pantry the love of Christ. She treats everyone with dignity and respect! My favorite part of serving at the food pantry has been taking the groceries out to Ocean Grove and seeing Bobbie’s big smile and the excitement of the other volunteers.”
Last year, Sullivan reached out to Gallager and asked, in addition to the canned vegetables and pasta they typically collect, what else could the congregation donate to help out? Gallager said fresh produce and meat were always a need. So this past Thanksgiving, Point Hope was able to collect the funds to purchase 100 turkeys.
“It was an absolute thrill for us to be able to provide our clients with a turkey for Thanksgiving, and the clients were very appreciative of Point Hope,” Gallager said.
Recently, the pandemic brought a challenge for the typical Sunday collection at Point Hope as they were not worshiping at the church. Point Hope’s sponsored Cub Scout Pack 505, along with the church’s Mission Team, decided they could continue the collection safely by rolling shelves outside and having a food dropoff.
“On Saturday mornings at 9 a.m., I would put on my gloves and roll our silver food shelves outside on the front porch,” Sullivan said. “Throughout the day I would wonder what we were going to get. And then I would come back at 4 p.m. and the shelves would be packed with food! Confession, it felt a bit like a kid on Christmas morning.”
In June, Point Hope collected 184.6 pounds of food with an additional 1,000 pounds of produce. Each client at the pantry was given a bag that had a mixture of potatoes, onions, carrots, corn and cantaloupe. Local Mount Pleasant business Boone Hall Farms discounted their watermelons, and Point Hope was able to purchase and deliver 125 watermelons to the pantry.
“The fresh vegetables provided by Point Hope in June and July were a big and very welcoming surprise for our clients,” Gallager said. “Our relationship and friendship with Point Hope has been a blessing to our food pantry and to me personally. Point Hope is a wonderful giving church—terrific members and an awesome minister, Elizabeth Sullivan. I am so very blessed by them all.”
“When Jesus walked the earth, he cared for the physical and spiritual needs of the people he encountered and I think we are called to do the same,” Sullivan said. “I love that the Ocean Grove food pantry allows us to address the issue of ‘food deserts’ here in South Carolina by meeting peoples’ physical needs, especially their need for fresh fruits and vegetables! I think collecting and serving at the Ocean Grove Food Pantry has done as much for Point Hope as it has for the food pantry itself. We were created to love and serve God, and we do that best when we love and serve others. It has been a real joy to be in ministry with the Ocean Grove food pantry.”
Point Hope hosted another Food Drive on Saturday, Aug. 8. The church is located at 3404 Turgot Lane, Mount Pleasant. Worship services are currently live each Sunday on its Facebook page and YouTube channel.
The church offers a casual, traditional worship service at 9:30 a.m. and uplifting contemporary service at 11 a.m. For more information, call 843-971-6377 or visit pointhopeumc.org.