When looking for opportunities to volunteer or donate money to feed the less fortunate, good Samaritans’ attentions often are turned to America’s urban centers or to countries in the developing world.
But, locals looking for an opportunity to help the less fortunate and feed their fellow man need look no further than their own back yard, figuratively speaking. Volunteers have been gathering at 10th and Maple for more than a decade to feed the hungry at Shepherd’s Cupboard, a food pantry located at Bethany United Methodist Church.
Start small, grow from there
The food pantry was started 13 years ago by then-pastor’s wife Tara Foos and a small number of church volunteers. With a small collection of donated and purchased food, the women of Bethany United Methodist began providing food weekly to about 12 people.
The pantry has grown steadily throughout the years, and now provides food to more than 200 households twice a month, making it one of the largest food banks in western Oklahoma.
Ed Neighbors has overseen the pantry’s growth and service for most of the last 13 years, and at 80 years old still is a steadfast volunteer.
“When I retired I didn’t have anything to do, so I figured I’d help out, and I’ve enjoyed it,” Neighbors said.
He said the food pantry gave him an opportunity to serve and to use his time and energy in retirement for a useful purpose.
“I never did learn how to play,” Neighbors said. “I’ve worked all my life, and when I finally had time to play it wasn’t fun anymore. So, I come here and work.”
He soon became director of the food pantry, and oversaw its expansion from a cupboard stocked with 1,000 food items to a multi-floor operation that moves up to 22,000 pounds of food each month.