Volunteers from Hand Up Enterprise passed out more than 110 bags of free fresh produce to Coffee County families on April 2.
The group received a huge donation of 2.5 tons of produce from Sysco Gulf Coast – a food distributer located in Geneva – and in less than 30 minutes had all of the food given out.
“I want to thank everybody that showed up today,” Hand Up Enterprise President Jennifer Nichols said. “We had a great team. The city, the mayor worked with us and we had city employees out here.
“We had a generous donation from Sysco in Geneva that was amazing. I don’t want to get emotional but we made 111 bags that we passed out and every one of them thanked us with tears in their eyes.”
Initially the group planned to pass out the produce on April 1 at the Enterprise Farmer’s Market but the high demand caused it to be moved to April 2 in front of Bates Memorial Stadium. Cars began lining up at 8 a.m. for the event that didn’t begin until 10 a.m.
“There were hungry people here and you could tell,” Nichols said. “It was heartbreaking, as we were handing some of them food they were crying. We have to take care of the people in our own backyard and we have to come together and ride out this storm.”
As a number of people around the state – including right here in Coffee County – are losing their jobs and going without work because of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Nichols said that it is more important than ever that the community supports those that are struggling.
“The reason we jumped into this so quickly is we realized the economic impact of our middle (and lower) income people here in Enterprise.
“Middle income people rely on two salaries that if they lose a few days of pay then they either can’t pay rent or buy food. They have to make that decision, do you pay for rent and utilities or feed their kids.”
Nichols said that helping families out to possibly ease that burden was very important to Hand Up Enterprise.
“Our mission has always been to supplement (lower and middle income families) so that we can give them a hand up,” she continued. “So, that they can take that money they were going to spend on food to go to rent or utilities so that they don’t become homeless. That’s our main goal here, to keep people from being homeless.”
Hand Up Enterprise also distributed food to food banks and churches in surrounding communities and also helped deliver food to the elderly.
Joining Nichols in giving out the food were fellow Hand Up Enterprise volunteers Jeanine Roberts, Travis Parker, Austin Reynolds, Ann Reynolds, Cathy Burnett and Jenny Jones.