• Children from Journey Fellowship Church hand a basket of cookies to Cindy Raxter, an emergency medical technician with Cherokee County Emergency Management. Photo by SAMANTHA SINCLAIR
    Children from Journey Fellowship Church hand a basket of cookies to Cindy Raxter, an emergency medical technician with Cherokee County Emergency Management. Photo by SAMANTHA SINCLAIR

SCOUTING AROUND: Church gives baskets of love to community

    Shelly Stephens and Diane Bishop of Murphy were getting ready to go to the gym when a man came to their door carrying a small basket full of shampoo, body wash and household cleaning supplies. They shook his hand, thanked him and asked him who he was.
    They then saw that the man – Ben Adams – had a few other people from his church with him. They were giving baskets to every home in the Cool Springs apartment complex on the weekend before Thanksgiving.
    “I was just flabbergasted,” Stephens said. “It was just the sweetest thing for them to do that.”
    Adams runs outreach programs for Journey Fellowship Church, which meets in the Valley Village Shopping Center. He created a list of items, then asked church members to go to a dollar store to purchase basic hygiene and cleaning products, as well as a small laundry basket to contain the items.
    Those who were unable to shop donated money for the church to purchase items for a basket. There were about $40 worth of products in each basket, Adams said.
    “We’re just trying to help people,” he said. “We just did it to give people love.”
    Adams said members were just following their Christian faith by helping. They figured people could use a little help this time of year, possibly allowing them to have some extra money and time to get a gift to put under the Christmas tree.
    “None of us do it for the show. We just do it to help people,” he said.
    While the gift did help financially, Stephens said the main thing is it shows people care. They easily could have given the items to the homeless shelter, and there are fixed-income families in their complex the basket certainly helped.
    “That stuff can add up quickly,” she said.
    For example, Gail Nichols had only $30 left in her bank account after grocery shopping when she came home and saw the basket on her doorstep, then noticed baskets on other doorsteps.
    “It was amazing,” Nichols said. “I was just thankful to God I got something like that.”
    She said she was almost out of deodorant and was trying to be conservative with what was left so she could buy that later. She was happy to see the basket included deodorant.
    “It does get hard for people like us to even buy such things,” Nichols said. “It was like Christmas coming early.”
    Mae Crain lost her driver’s license, and she has found it difficult to find someone to even take her to the store during this busy time of year. She said the supplies provided by the church would last 2-3 weeks.
    “It meant a whole lot because I was out of everything,” she said. “They are very nice people, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
    Diana Garrett, wife of pastor Patrick Garrett, said the baskets were prayed over before delivery.
    Children from the church also spread their love through the community as they began their Thanksgiving break.
    The children – Isaac Jensen, Isabella Jensen, Elisabeth Jensen, Joseph Jensen, Janessa Jensen, Adaline Jensen, Patience Garrett, Callie Lundy, William Lundy, Chloe Witzke, Ryan Dettweiler, Kaitlyn Dettweiler and Abby Benedict – met at the pastor’s house last Tuesday night and made cookies with Diana. They packaged two cookies in plastic bags, then filled baskets with 25 bags of cookies.
    On the morning of Nov. 21, she and the children traveled to Andrews and back to Murphy, delivering the cookies to local police and emergency medical departments as a thank you for their service to the community.

Hiwassee Dam gets food bank Friday
    MANNA is bringing its new initiative, the pop-up market, to the Hiwassee Dam Community Center from noon-2 p.m. Friday.
    The food bank – which works with pantries in Andrews, Murphy and other communities in the 16 counties it serves – started the pop-up markets to serve areas where a “pantry desert” or “food desert” exists.
    “Pop-up markets allow MANNA to partner with local groups who don’t have a brick-and-mortar space, or who aren’t a food distribution group, to offer fresh, perishable foods to their community members needing food support,” said Kara Irani, director of marketing and communications for MANNA.
    The pop-up market is open to anyone in need of help with groceries. No documentation is needed to receive support, as it’s based on an honor system. People should bring a bag or a box to carry groceries home.
    The market will also feature a cooking demonstration by the MANNA Nutrition Works Team. They will use food available at the market, show how to make meals and allow people to taste test. They also will provide recipe cards.
    The Hiwassee Dam pop-up market is hosted by Catholic Charities, which is also providing volunteers for the market. Netta McFaddin, the Murphy program coordinator for Catholic Charities, said the pop-up market would have a farmers market feel to it.
    “I’m excited,” McFaddin said. “We’re hoping this will be a monthly event.”
    Irani said MANNA would like to bring pop-up markets to Cherokee County on a regular basis. McFaddin said Catholic Charities would host it in any community, and Hiwassee Dam was receptive to the idea.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.