Walmart donates $25,000 to food pantry

First Byline: 
Jonathan Vickery - Managing Editor

A $25,000 donation from the Walmart Foundation will help feed hundreds who rely on monthly assistance from a Williston food pantry.
The money went to Winfield Heights Baptist Church's food pantry, which distributes food once a month to an average of 100 families.
"We are extremely grateful for the Walmart Foundation's generosity," said Susan Gore, director of the Food Pantry. "This will help us purchase greater amounts of food each month and make the necessary upgrades to our storage and distribution process."
Representatives from the company were on hand July 31 for the food pantry's monthly food distribution to present the check and see exactly how the money will help.
Eric Wachtman, a market manager with the company, said they are always looking for ways to strengthen the communities they are located in. "It's tremendous what this organization is doing. They are a blessing to so many people."
The money will allow the food pantry to be a blessing to even more people.
"God's really been blessing us," said Rev. Jamie Wootten, pastor of Winfield Heights.
Approximately half the money was used to purchase refrigerators, freezers and other equipment so they can now offer cold food. The rest of the money will be used to buy food in order to help more people each month.
The need for the food pantry was evident July 31 as the church handed out 154 boxes of food to help feed 368 people, including 99 who are over the age of 60 and 93 under age 18. Some began lining up at noon, six hours before the pantry opened.
Trellis Williams was one of those who received a box of food as well as diapers for her baby. "I thank God for them," said Williams. "Things are kind of hard and expensive right now."
While the money is allowing them to help more people, Wootten said they had to turn away at least 40 people last week due to supply. "That says a lot about the need that's in Barnwell County. We always need more resources," such as donations and volunteers, he said.
"This is what it's all about," said Williston Town Councilman Dwayne Cagle of "community helping community." Cagle is a member of Rosemary Baptist Church in Williston, which used to operate its own pantry until merging resources with Winfield Heights.
The food pantry, which is housed in the church's activity center, was started in 2008 in an overflow room of the church and initially served a dozen families. Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Elko and Rosemary Baptist are now partners with the food pantry. A large portion of the food donations come from the Golden Harvest Food Bank.
In addition to food, clients of the pantry are able to meet representatives from the Southeastern Housing Foundation. These representatives help make clients aware of benefits and assistance through the Benefit Bank of South Carolina in providing affordable housing options and owner occupied repairs.
"She's put a lot of people in housing through this food pantry," said Wootten of Beth Overton with Southeastern Housing. Overton was the one who wrote the grant for the food pantry.
Clients of the food pantry must meet certain qualifications in order to receive food.
In 2013, community giving in South Carolina from Walmart stores, clubs and the Walmart Foundation totaled $29.2 million. To date in 2014, the company has made grants totaling $511,606 to 12 S.C. non-profit organizations.
To learn more about the food pantry and eligibility for receiving food, call the church office at 803-266-3832.