Families, volunteers and donors are blessed at Sumter United Ministries

Ministry distributes Thanksgiving meals

Brandon Murphy volunteers during the distribution of Thanksgiving meals at Sumter United Ministries on Tuesday.
Brandon Murphy volunteers during the distribution of Thanksgiving meals at Sumter United Ministries on Tuesday.

"It's such a blessing," Carolyn said as she moved down the line at Sumter United Ministries.

She said she was planning to have family from Tennessee visit for the Thanksgiving meal.

"I am grateful for the food bank, my family, friends and loved ones and God most of all," she said.

Carolyn and about 150 other recipients of the Thanksgiving food boxes descended on Sumter United Ministries on Tuesday to receive a box of food and a turkey or ham.

The blessing is not just for those who were there to receive food - it was also spread to the volunteers and anyone who made a donation.

Jayden Benson, a senior at Sumter High School, was helping recipients load their food into their cars.

"I like it because I'm able to help my community," he said.

Glenda Oakden was at the ministry with her two sons, Garrett, 12, and Patrick, 16, both Boy Scouts.

She said it was her first year volunteering at the ministry and that she was there to help teach her sons.

"He will get a badge for citizenship in the community," she said of her youngest son. "My oldest son, Patrick, is an Eagle Scout, so he is just here because he wants to be."

"It's good to help people out," he said, but he said he was frustrated that he didn't have a lot to do.

"At least they have a lot of volunteers," his mom added.

Roxanne Warfle said she has volunteered at the ministry before.

"I love giving back," she said as she handed out cranberry sauce. "We are very blessed in our life."

SUM Executive Director Mark Champagne said volunteer Anne Abbott deserves a lot of credit for putting the ministry's Thanksgiving food drive and Christmas gift drive together.

"She has been with Sumter United Ministries since the very beginning," he said.

Abbott said Thanksgiving is her favorite part of helping at Sumter United Ministries.

"I found I have a heart for the poor and wanted to help people," Abbott said. "The people are selected by grace; they can't sign up. We call them up and say, 'We have this for you if you want it.'"

She said the holiday giving is a blessing to the volunteers as well as the food recipients.

"It's like two ministries; we minister to all the volunteers, as well," she said. "We want to make it a good experience for them."

Abbott said the annual Christmas giveaway will be Dec. 19.

"For Christmas, we ask people to select things that they feel good giving," she said.

Just as for the Thanksgiving event, SUM will choose who receives gifts from the ministry.

"For Christmas, we have called a lot of people and asked them what they need," Abbott said.

During the next month, congregations throughout Sumter will have Christmas trees with tags describing gifts that are needed. Members of the congregations will pick a tag and purchase the item described on it.

She said she is amazed by the results.

"This whole room is filled up with bags and stuff," Abbott said. "It's really the generosity of the community on display."