‘A modern Christmas miracle’, Huge donations pour in following food pantry theft

PICKENS — At a time of year when people the world over are celebrating the miracle of Jesus’ birth, Tracy James and the folks at Midway Baptist Church are celebrating their very own modern-day Christmas miracle.
Last Friday morning, a week before Christmas Eve, James arrived at Midway to begin preparing for the church’s weekly Thursday Meals Ministry (icy weather had delayed them a day) when she discovered that the three-month supply of food, valued at approximately $1,000, had been cleared out of the freezers outside the church’s fellowship building.
James was shocked.
“I couldn’t believe that anyone would steal something they could have had anyway,” she said. “If they would have asked, not only would we have given it to them, we probably would have prepared it too.”
The Thursday Meals Ministry, coordinated by James, began four years ago. Every Thursday, James and a group of dedicated volunteers come together to prepare and deliver hot meals to shut-ins and hungry people throughout Pickens County.
“For many of these folks, the Thursday nights we deliver hot meals is the only time they have visitors — someone to talk with — to know someone cares about them,” said James.
In the four years that Midway Baptist has been ministering to Pickens County through its Thursday Meals program, the freezers outside the fellowship hall have never been locked.
Most of the food Midway uses for its ministry comes to them by way of donation. The freezers have always been left unlocked so that people could make donations at their convenience.
“Anyone who knows our church or knows about our ministry should know that we would gladly help anyone in need,” said James.
James also said that Midway has always dreamed of operating a larger, more full-scale food pantry to meet the needs of the Pickens community.
It looks as though when one door closes, another does indeed open.
“And it isn’t any little door,” said James. “It is a great big garage-sized door.”
Since news of the food theft has made its way into the media, James and the dedicated volunteers at Midway Baptist have received an overabundance of donations.
Bi-Lo and BMW charities donated 65 turkeys and $1,000 in Bi-Lo gift cards; Ingles and Hormel also gave a $1,000 donation, as did a men’s ministry out of Spartanburg. Mysterious Grandpas, another charitable organization, donated three freezers to the ministry, which are at present packed with food.
“They say everything is bigger in Texas, but I think the hearts of people in the Carolinas are bigger than anything they’ve got in Texas,” James said.
“I knew the hearts of the people in Pickens County were big, but I really had no idea how big until all of this happened. We’ve had people in and out of here, non-stop, leaving donations of food.”
While discovering how big the hearts of Pickens County residents are, James has also realized how great the need is in Pickens as well.
“God has blessed us,” she said. “Not only do we have huge donations of food to give away to those in need, but we also have people in need calling for food.”
James received a call from a mother who has four children. With her children out of school for the holiday vacation, they are not receiving breakfast and lunch, and she does not have enough food to feed them while they are at home.
“It was indescribable to see the look on that child’s face when they got the boxes of food,” James said. “These kids were more tickled to see what was in those boxes than what Santa might bring them.”
Had someone not stolen all the food out of those freezers, Midway Baptist would not have the enormous surplus of food to give to families, like this, in desperate need.
Sadly, there are more families like the one James described here in Pickens County.
People are struggling and hurting more than ever before, as evidenced by the desperation that drove someone to steal food from a church that would have generously given the food away.
Tracy James and the people of Midway Baptist church feel truly blessed by this unsuspected Christmas miracle. Anyone interested in making donations or anyone in need of food donations can contact James at (864) 878-1550.
“Our church phone has been flooded with calls,” said James. “Anyone who calls should leave a message and we will get back to them as soon as we possibly can. We’ve got volunteers making sure every phone call is returned.”