By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A group of Atmore residents, in conjunction with Feeding the Gulf Coast, plans to distribute — without restrictions — about five tons of food to local and area residents this Saturday, May 30.
“We are going to give out 10,000 pounds of food to the citizens of Atmore and the surrounding area,” said a spokesperson for the local coalition sponsoring the event. “We’ll start handing it out at 10 a.m. and keep handing it out until the last morsel is given out.”
The only restriction for those who wish to take advantage of the grocery giveaway is that they must arrive at Rachel Patterson Elementary School in a car, from Craig Street. Atmore police will be directing traffic, making sure that the streets around the school are kept clear of extraneous traffic.
“People should take Craig Street to the school,” the spokesperson said. “Don’t try to come off (U.S.) 31 and come up Rockaway Creek Road. That will be for people leaving, and cars that try to come in that way will be stopped and turned around.”
There are no other restrictions, except that each person might be asked “a couple of questions” about the experience. Anyone, regardless of age, economic status or residency can take advantage.
“It’s for anybody,” said the spokesperson. “It doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you’ve got, or how much money you haven’t got. This is really a community thing.”
The Atmore food giveaway evolved from similar successful events in Flomaton and in Century, Fla.
“Michele Helton (a local nurse) volunteered with Feeding the Gulf Coast at the Flomaton Food Giveaway,” the spokesperson explained. “She called me on a Wednesday and asked why we couldn’t do something like that here. Then, on Thursday, Rev. Willie Hawthorne (pastor of Greater Mt. Triumph Missionary Baptist Church) called and asked the same thing.”
Shortly after that, a coalition was formed that includes Hawthorne; Helton and her daughter, Abby; City Councilwoman Susan Smith; First United Methodist Church Pastor Andy Gartman; Dr. Zickeyous Byrd and Kappa League members; as well as members of Women With a Vision and Ladies of Essence. The group quickly raised the $1,500 needed to make the event happen in Atmore.
“For $1,500 we got 10,000 pounds of food,” said the spokesperson. “We started meeting, and we raised the money in a day and a half.”
The food distribution, which also has the blessings of state and federal agricultural officials, will include fruits, vegetables, bread and “some kind of meat.” It will be boxed prior to being handed out.
“Sometimes it’s a whole chicken, sometimes it’s chicken patties,” the spokesperson said. “Sometimes it’s a bag of potatoes or carrots, or some apples, oranges or strawberries. It’s a variety of things that could be in each box.”
Those who are shut-in may have a box of food delivered by calling Hawthorne (251-294-6639), Gartman (334-714-1072) or Smith (251-294-0614).
The local group expects plenty of volunteers on Saturday, but there’s always room for more.
“If anybody wants to help, they just need to show up at the front of the school around 7 or 7:30 Saturday morning,” the spokesperson said. “We’ve got a lot of food to give away, and we can use any help we can get.”