The circle of support to feed the hungry

Volunteers fill bags of food for more than 2,000 needy people in Sevier County. (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Thousands of people lined up through the parking lot on Monday morning at the Sevier County Food Ministries waiting for their weekly allotment of food to feed their families.

"Yeah we come every week, me and my sister there," said Robyn Long.

Long is one of many who rely on the food ministry to feed her family. Her household just got bigger, after her brother lost his job and house. Long says she, like many wouldn't be able to feed everyone without the help.

"It helps out a lot, especially with times the way they are and people losing their jobs and their houses," said Long.

It's the stories like Long's that hundreds of volunteers will take home with them from this day as they hand out food bag after bag.

"You look out amongst the crowd and there's people you know. people you've seen and people you've worked beside," said Christina Center, a volunteer from Ripley's Aquarium. "It's very sad that there's this many people that need this kind of service in our community. But it's amazing that our community comes together to provide this service for the people that are in need."

Ripley's not only sent volunteers, but supported the food ministry with 1600 cans of food raised during a canned food drive. Directors at the Sevier County Food Ministry say it really turns into friends helping friends every year.

"The attractions are great, they contribute and sometimes when it's a slow time of year and their employees get laid off, they come here so it's a circle, we help them and they help us," said Steve Streibig, of Sevier County Food Ministries. "Lumberjack Feud just brought us a whole trailer we're unloading now."

Streibig says the donations will help put food on the table for 2,000 families this Thanksgiving. However, after this week they supply warehouse will be empty. That's why he hopes volunteers see just how big the need is for support year round.

"Once this Christmas holiday Christmas and thanksgiving season stops, there's a real, the air goes out pretty quickly because we do this 52 weeks a year," said Streibig.

Monday before Thanksgiving is the busiest distribution day for the food ministry. Last year they provided more than 1800 families with a Thanksgiving meal and are planning for more in need this year.

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