by David Cecelski
On my way to McDaniel’s Crossroads last week, I had an eye-opening experience. I was passing through the little town of Salemburg, in Sampson County, and I saw this tremendous throng of people lined up downtown. Hundreds of people were there. Salemburg’s population is well under 500, but the line stretched down the street and around the back of the Royal Trustworthy Hardware Store.
I have to confess that my first thought was: there must be something really good to eat at the end of that line. I was thinking maybe a chicken and pastry dinner sponsored by the local high school band boosters or something like that. So I pulled off US 242 and parked in front of the hardware store.
Well, I was right in a way: there was food at the end of that line, but not really what I had expected. Instead, I found volunteers handing out bags of canned goods, frozen chicken, and other groceries. The line was a food giveaway for people that don’t have enough to eat. And it looked like everybody in town was there.
Jeff Bartlett, the minister at Piniel Pentecostal Holiness Church, was nice enough to show me around. His church has recently joined the Christian Food Bank of Salemburg, which is the coalition of local churches behind the food giveaway. He said that he had the same reaction I did when he first visited—he could scarcely believe how many people were there. He hadn’t imagined that there’d be so many people in need in such a small town.
Rev. Bartlett told me that the Salemburg Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church started the food giveaway. But no single congregation could meet the need. Now more than 200 volunteers from eight churches make it happen on the third Saturday of every month.
Lately, they’ve been feeding around 500 people a month. Most probably live in the town limits; some come from the countryside nearby. And the numbers have been growing rapidly.
While I was there, I had a chance to visit with some of the people in line. There were all kinds of people waiting for groceries—every color, every age, every background. I met young mothers, elderly widowers, retired couples, laid-off factory workers, a little bit of everybody. They were just folks like you and me doing without and needing a hand.
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To learn more, look for the Christian Food Bank of Salemburg on Facebook. If you’d like to make a donation, you can send a check to their office at 113 N. Main St., Salemburg, NC 28385.