NEEDLES — Firehouse Ministries has seen an increase of people who attend their food bank during the COVID-19 epidemic.
“On our end, we have seen a double, a 100% increase, in the use of the food bank,” said Pastor James Jones. “We believe that the people coming to the food bank will become a greater number than what we have seen in the last two weeks.”
The Firehouse Ministries food bank serves food on the first, second and fourth Thursdays of the month. On the third Saturday, they have a downtown pantry.
When people come to the pantry there are a couple of things that they will need to do.
Fill out paperwork, show some form of identification, proof of residency (utility bill, rent receipt, a letter from social services), they will ask how many people are in the household.
“We are going to take that information to know how big your family is,” said Jones. “If you say that ‘I have children,’ we are going to ask that you provide some sort of documentation of the children in your home and the other people in your home. That way we can for certain know who lives with you and how much food we should give you.”
Firehouse Ministries will accept donations from people.
“Anyone that wants to donate staples, unopened in the original packet food, all you have to do is call me at 760-443-4342 and we will come to pick it up or you can deliver it right here to our church at 809 Bush St.,” said Jones. “You can make monetary donations in any form you’d like and during our food bank hours we have a donation box that you can make donations there and if you want to write a check make it out to Firehouse Ministries. You can mail it to us or you can hand deliver it to us but what we do not have the capability of is receiving electronic donations through any of the online stuff. We haven’t evolved that far yet.”
Jones said the great thing about the ministry is that all the donations it gets go right back into the community.
“We have no paid employees, that’s including me — 100% of what comes in goes back out to the community,” Jones said. “We accept volunteers Thursday morning at the food bank and on the third Saturday of the month, we accept volunteers there as well. It’s a very easy process to become a volunteer all you do is you come in and you sign up on the volunteer list and we assign you something to do. Usually here at the food pantry, we always need folks from the 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. hour or the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. hours to help us unload these trucks. There is no shortage of work.”
To adhere to social distancing, Firehouse Ministries has come up with a plan on how people will get their food.
“They park, they come and stand in line, of course right now they have to keep their distance apart,” said Jones. “As the line moves forward, they check in with the ladies that are doing the check-in process. When they are checked in, we have volunteers that load the food into large wagons, then they pull those wagons to the person’s car and load it into the car for them and that process is repeated.”
Firehouse Ministries not only distributes food but they also distribute clothing.
“When they come into the food pantry they just have to let one of the volunteers know that they are interested in browsing through our clothes closet,” said Pastor Jones. “Another thing we do is right out front of the church, we set up tables, we don’t do this every food bank but we do it quite regularly now, and put the clothes on the table and let the people come up and rummage through the clothes and take what they like.”
Pastor Jones stated that the Firehouse Ministries’ motto is that they are people of this community serving this community.
“We love what we do and we want to impact our community,” said Pastor Jones. “This isn’t just about feeding people we also have a clothes closet and we are going to have a Women’s and Children’s Shelter. These are the things that impact our community and we want this community to be better for that impact. As this moves along and as we come out of this virus we will still be doing these things. We want to see people’s lives better for what we do,” Pastor Jones continued. “We are a fully functioning church ready to help both physically, which is food clothing and housing and spiritually.”