This week’s Hometown Heroes are from Howland and have made it their mission to help feed the community.
Chuck and Donna Mackey, along with their daughter Julie, have been attending the Bolindale Christian Church in Warren since the early 1990s.
In 2011, Donna saw a need to help feed the community. So with the help of her family, they started a food pantry at the church.
At first, it was a challenge.
“I just couldn’t keep the shelves full for just people here at the church. So I said, ‘I don’t know how we’re gonna do this, but we’re gonna do it,'” Donna said.
The following year, the Mackey family received grant money from Howland trustees and have been going strong ever since.
The family buys the food from Second Harvest Food Bank and receives some from Howland’s Stuff the Bus event.
But, Donna says the pantry wouldn’t be complete without the help of people in the community who volunteer and donate.
“People that have left here will come back and say, ‘You helped me when I needed it,’ and bring us a donation,” Donna said.
The family started out serving around 40 people with the pantry. Over the last seven years, that’s grown to nearly 100 people at times, mainly young children and the elderly.
Chuck says they distributed 12.5 tons of food last year.
“The need is always there and we have several families that could not make it without the extra help,” he said.
They even have a nutritionist who comes in to help because providing healthy choices is important to the Mackeys.
“Kelly helps by taking blood pressure and helping people. So we try to offer as much as we can to the community, not just, ‘Here’s a box and here you go,'” Julie said.
They’re also involved with the Howland Farmer’s Market to bring healthy food choices to the pantry.
The Bolindale Food Pantry is open every second and fourth Wednesday of the month from 4-6 p.m.
They give meat twice a month and give juice and milk as it comes in.
To receive assistance from the Bolindale Food Pantry, you have to bring an I.D. or proof of residency.