Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 24, 2013

EAST SPENCER — With custody of her son and grandson, an out-of-work Diana Casey counted Monday’s food pantry giveaway as a blessing.

“I had just told my daughter I need to get some money to get some household supplies. I need to wash my clothes, and the phone call came in right on time,” Casey said.

Casey’s daughter had just heard from a local church about the Northside Church of God of Prophecy’s community event that handed out nearly 1,400 pounds of frozen meat, canned goods, paper towels and soap.

East Spencer Mayor Barbara Mallett, town aldermen, staff and emergency personnel from the town’s police and fire departments were on-hand to pass out the goods.

The church, a recent partner with the Second Harvest Food Bank in Charlotte, held a similar event just days ago, giving away another 1,200 pounds of food and supplies.

“I’m sure it means a whole lot to people, especially when you don’t have the supplies or whatever and you don’t have the means to get it,” Casey said as she placed a box full of detergent in the back of her SUV. “I think it means a whole lot. I know I’m grateful.”

Casey said she expects to finish her degree in early childhood care from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in the spring.

But for those on a tight budget during the holidays, she said, the charity helps some struggling families find their footing.

Kelly Hosch was one of the dozens of East Spencer residents who grabbed a frozen pack of chicken, picked through the canned goods and grabbed a bottle of olive oil Monday.

Hosch works at a local fast food restaurant and said the holiday season is especially tight for a mother of three.

“Being that it’s right here at Christmas time. Money’s low. Food’s low. Everything is low right now,” Hosch said. “This definitely gives me that extra boost to make it to next month.”

More than 135 families received goods during the first hour of Monday’s event.

Bishop James Lott and his wife, Brenda, have been hosting food pantry giveaways for five or six years, they said, but Monday’s was the first that the town endorsed.

“I’ve seen the expression on their faces. It just means they have some hope,” James Lott said. “They find some hope through our efforts of giving back to them.”

Mallett, the mayor, said all town employees were volunteers, but that the town donated $100 to help fund the cause.

“It’s just a blessing,” Mallett said. “I’m just as surprised as the bishop. I said, ‘What kind of turnout are we going to have today?’ It’s raining. It’s close to Christmas. And look, it’s been amazing, and they’re still coming.”

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.