Jeff and Candy Waite founded the Gospel Mission Food Pantry as means to meet the needs of a community, both physically and spiritually. For two years, the Waites operated the food pantry out of the Open Door Baptist Church on Franklin Street before moving into the Harmar Community Center in September of 2011. What began as a small operation has evolved into a source of help and hope for those in need. The Mission consistently serves over 160 families, 400 people, each week. They run soley on the generous donations they received from the community– they are not affiliated with any major distribution centers that might prohibit them from giving out bibles or inviting people to church, Candy says.

There are no geographical or financial requirements for the people being served by the pantry, and no limit on how many times they can get help. “They can come every Wednesday if they need to. That’s all we ask is people come as they need,” said Jeff Waite. Which is why Candy, Jeff and all of the Mission volunteers were heartbroken when the Mission was robbed of 90% of its food last Thursday. The pantry took a hard hit, having just stocked up on meats and other food in preparation for the 4th of July holiday.

Sometimes it takes a devastating blow such as this to bring a community together, and this is exactly what happened as a response to last week’s robbery. “Thursday was a sad day as we walked into a near empty food pantry,” Candy wrote in her letter to the editor, “But I can never remember three better days in my life than Friday, Saturday and Sunday! At times we had four and five cars or trucks lined up outside the pantry door in order to drop off food.” The Mission received over $5,000 in cash donations and countless pounds of food from community members holding food drives, collecting donations, and working together to restock the shelves.

Candy concluded her letter to the editor by saying, ” ‘Thanks’ is such a small word… just six letters! But this small word is the most meaningful word I can ever offer. Thanks! and God bless ye.”

How You Can Help:

The Gospel Mission Food Pantry is located at 309 Lancaster St. in Harmar Village, Marietta, Ohio. Serving those in need each Wednesday from 11 to 4, the Mission accepts donations Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 4:30 to 8, Wednesday from 10:30 to 4, and Saturday from 11 to 5. The best day to drop off donations is Tuesday evening, particularly any non-perishable items.