“Helping meet the needs of those in need” has been the mission of King’s Kettle Food Pantry in Shippensburg for the past 26 years.
Pastor J.R. and Rhonda Wells have answered the call for families in need of life’s staples such as food, health & beauty products, infant needs and holiday meals and cheer with a joyful heart and a giving spirit whenever called upon to do so. They offer prayer and encouraging words to those in need of a hand up and not a hand out. Giving hope is what they do, period.
Today, as COVID-19 has shaken the lives of everyone around us, from families large and small, to churches, restaurants, and grocery stores and small businesses, The King’s Kettle is also feeling the impact of this new normal -- a decreased supply with increased demands. Unsure of what the future looks like for this local program that is essential to the families who depend on it, Wells is looking for a ray of sunshine to help his garden of hope spring forth during this pandemic.
“The months of January through April and even May are typically slow months for the pantry in regards to monetary donations anyway,” Wells explained. “But, this year with the virus situation it has been particularly hard on us.
“We depend on and are so very grateful for donations that we receive from the Stewart Foundation, United Way, local churches and everyone who donates to the pantry, but in times when we need a little extra to keep things going, I can usually depend on local businesses and other entities to help out. Because of the shutdown of so many businesses and entities that would normally come to our rescue, those places are also on hold or shut down completely, which in turn, makes it extremely hard on us. I’m a little concerned about the future if this continues.”
He said the food pantry is good right now, but if monetary donations continue to take a downward spiral, the pantry can’t continue to operate on a shoestring budget and still provide families with what they need.
The King’s Kettle receives ‘paper money’ as Wells refers to it, from the county each year, just as other food banks do. This money is used to purchase food and other supplies from the Central PA Food Bank. Donations that the King’s Kettle receives from the Stewart Foundation, United Way and others go directly back into the pantry, helping to pay utility bills, storage rental, insurance, fuel and maintenance for trucks used to pickup and deliver food, and a host of other necessary components needed to keep the pantry running smoothly and filling the needs of those who depend on it.
Wells said this COVID-19 crisis has really caused him and Rhonda to take a hard look at the future and try to figure out what their next step will be if things continue down the same road for the new few weeks or months, whatever the case may be.
“We’ve never experienced anything like this,” Wells noted. “We were already serving the needs of anywhere between 100-125 families every Tuesday evening, and every week we see several new faces. We don’t turn anyone away -- we never have and never will -- but it really concerns us what the next few weeks will bring as far as families needing help. Everyone is impacted by this crisis, and my heart goes out to those who have lost their jobs, their livelihoods and their paychecks.”
The King’s Kettle serves families in the Shippensburg Area School District in both Cumberland and Franklin counties. Because the food pantry isn’t considered to be a small business, Wells said it doesn’t qualify for the small business loans offered by the CARES Act. He doesn’t have employees, the food pantry operates with a steady, loyal stream of 35-40 volunteers each week, all of which do a variety of tasks to see that food and supplies are delivered, the shelves are stocked and the warehouse is maintained.
“Without the help of our volunteers, we couldn’t do what we do,” Wells added. “The same goes for those who donate financially to the pantry, and now that those donations aren’t coming in, it’s hard to look down the road…I just keep hoping this situation will start to change, soon!”
He said they have no intention of closing the pantry, vowing to do whatever they can to keep it going, but he’s hoping that those who have the means to help, will do so and help spread kindness in hopes of keeping the pantry stocked so they can continue to meet the needs of those who are in need.
Pastor J.R. and Rhonda are extremely proud, and grateful for all those who have volunteered in any capacity at the food pantry over the years, as well as everyone who has contributed monetarily.
“The generosity of the Shippensburg community is such a blessing, and so very important to those who need it!” Rhonda exclaimed.
As we come together to help one another through this pandemic, Wells said he hopes that the bonds of community, of faith and of love continue to grow even stronger, and we continue to be there for each other-helping our neighbors, caring for those who need us, and sharing God’s love.
Anyone wishing to help the King’s Kettle Food Pantry during these unprecedented times can do so by making a donation by check payable to The King’s Kettle, 30 N. Fayette St., P.O. Box 575, Shippensburg, Pa. 17257.