A food pantry event held Thursday outside Second Baptist Church in Joliet attracted a line of vehicles that wrapped around several streets.
The Rev. Elmer Harris, one of the pastors for the church, said volunteers expected to provide free food for families arriving in 300 to 400 vehicles. About 250 hams and 250 turkeys were donated for the event by Citizens Against Abuse and the Blessing Table, one of several ministries for Second Baptist Church, 156 S. Joliet St.
“We’ve got plenty of food out here,” Harris said. “We want to make sure that families are not hungry for Christmas.”
Volunteers packed each vehicle that passed through Joliet Street with boxes of food. Harris shouted “Merry Christmas! God bless you!” to each vehicle that left.
A few officers with the Joliet Police Department were on hand to help with traffic.
Second Baptist Church has existed in Joliet for 143 years. It is known as the oldest Black church in the city. Harris said the Blessing Table has been feeding the community since 1984.
Edgar Quinones of Joliet attended Thursday’s event to pick up food such as milk, bananas, potatoes, salad, cake and meat. He said he comes to the event every year because “it feeds my family.”
“It keeps my family alive with food,” Quinones said.
The volunteers run a well-coordinated event, he said, praising Harris’ efforts.
“He’ll give you the last dollar out of his pocket,” Quinones said.
Janice Wood, a volunteer and member of the church, said she believes providing food to the community is especially important for children because it helps them succeed in school and other areas of their lives.
“If they have the right nutritional component, they can function,” Wood said.
Another volunteer helping to provide food for families was Terri Ransom, a member of Citizens Against Abuse who is a DuPage Township trustee.
Ransom said the food pantry event was a benefit to the community.
“Especially this year, it seems there are a lot of people in need,” Ransom said.
The Rev. Larry Tyler, senior pastor at Second Baptist Church, said the church tries to help the community through various programs aside from the Blessing Table, such as an after-school basketball program.
“We try to take a holistic approach in our outreach to the community,” Tyler said.