One Harlem outreach ministry is making sure needy families have a pantry staple - bread.
Volunteers for the Hands Up Outreach Ministry gather daily at the Harlem Theatre to distribute donated bread to those who need it.
"There is a great need and I didn't realize it was that great," said Viola Watts, who had the idea to join volunteers from several churches in and around Harlem to form the Hands Up ministry.
Watts said bread and pastry items are donated to the ministry almost daily by a city business. Volunteers distribute the bread and baked goods from the Harlem Theatre from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Watts said the hours and days can change depending on the donations and volunteers.
The bread ministry was formed only a few months ago, said Watts, who oversees the bread distribution.
"I think it started out with (Harlem United Methodist Church) Pastor Roger Vest giving out bread for the students during the summer," Watts said. "After (students) were back in school, they decided to let us continue to do that."
Anyone in need is welcome to visit the theater for bread at no cost.
Watts said the outreach ministry came from her vision of area churches working together for the greater good of Harlem residents.
"Really, we want the community to come together," Watts said. "I know that is the heart of God, that we all come together and glorify God's name in the community."
Seven area churches provide volunteers for the ministry's efforts and meet monthly for a combined worship service. The participating churches are New Holt, New Hope, Fountain Grove, Second Mount Moriah and Harlem Baptist churches and Harlem United Methodist Church.
The worship service is at 7 p.m. on the fourth Friday of the month at Harlem Middle School and always features a guest speaker, Watts said. The services are open to the public.
Watts said she hopes to move into the outreach ministry's new home, the former Harlem Depot behind the fire station downtown, in about a month, after minor renovations.
At that time, Watts said, the ministry will accept donations of clothing, large and small appliances and other household items to be distributed to families in need.
For more information on Hands Up Outreach Ministry, the bread distribution or to volunteer, call Watts at (706) 556-3698; Harlem United Methodist Church at (706) 556-6885; or Harlem Baptist Church at (706) 556-6439.
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