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Food Depot helps feed over 900 a month

Volunteers Debra Haney, Connor Thompson and Sara Hayes prepare boxes of food for those in need.

Staff photo by Gabby Boyd

BY GABBY BOYD

gboyd@dailycorinthian.com

For about 900 people, the third Friday evening of each month means food on the table.

This is the time volunteers throughout the Crossroads area gather at the Food Depot of Tishomingo County to help those in need.

Anywhere from 40 to 70 people from different walks of life participate in packing boxes with food. One man said he has been doing this for over decade and the primary goal is help the members of his community.

"It makes me happy when people come here to help our neighbors. There are a lot of families in need," said Maxey South, the president of the Food Depot.

"I volunteer because I feel it's my Christian duty and I enjoy helping others. This is a great way to help the citizens of Tishomingo County," said Johnny Southward, an Iuka native.

Volunteers pack anywhere from 300 to 400 boxes each month during the spring and summer months, said South.

"It's a lot of work. People don't think about it, but it takes 40 50 pound boxes to make a ton and 320 boxes is equivalent to eight tons. So you can imagine how much food we're dealing with here," said South, a Tishomingo County native.

After the food is packed up, it is given away on the next day to those who fall short on groceries and income.

Each box is filled with 30 items full of different kinds of foods, such as cereal, flour, canned goods and so much more, said the Food Depot president.

"The majority of those boxes go to families and some of them have several kids," said South, who loves giving back to his community.

In order to get a box of food, a person must apply and qualify at the Tishomingo County Courthouse.

"They have to live in the county, receive a government check and be at a certain income level to receive assistance," said South, who has worked with the Food Depot for 15 years.

After a person qualifies for help, they can can get a box each month for a whole year.

The Food Depot is a non-profit organization which is a part of United Way of Northeast Missiddippi. It was established 16 years ago at Harmony United Methodist Church. Not too long after the organization was later moved to the old she factory in Iuka until it was destroyed by fire. After the building burned, the Food Depot was moved to a building on Paul Edmondson Drive and has been there for 11 years, said South.

The organization started out packing 600 boxes a month, but narrowed it down to the 350 range, he said.

The Food Depot is strictly a labor of love by volunteers, but many churches in Tishomingo County donate and help fund it.

Beth White is another volunteer. She and her family have been volunteering at The Food Depot for four years. She said it started when members of her church began to help the organization.

"It's wonderful what this ministry does and I enjoy doing whaterver I can to help my community," said White, who works for the district attorney's office.

Volunteeting his has been a positive experience for her young sons, said White.

"It's been a good way for my husband and I to teach our kids that they should help others whenever they can. We take them with us every time we go volunteer," said White, a member of Iuka United Methodist Church.

It's amazing because a majority of churches here help. They do a lot for us," said South, who also works for the county.

Southward said volunteering at the food giveaway gives him a feeling of hope.

"The organization does wonderful things. The food which is donated is going to a good place and in my heart I know it's going to help someone from my county," said Southward, who is also an alderman for Iuka.

South encourages people to join the food packing movement.

"Not only do you help those in need, but you meet all kinds of people in the process and can build friendships," he added.

Southward agreed with South.

"The best thing about volunteering here is the people. There are a lot of good people who come here after work and do what they can to help those in need. It amazes me," said the Iuka High School graduate.

(People interested in volunteering at the Food Depot of Tishomingo County can contact Maxey South at 662-279-4184.)