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Under the Bridge Ministries delivers meals to those in need

POSTED: November 24, 2013 12:16 a.m.
NAT GURLEY/The Times

Volunteers from area churches package Thanksgiving meals at Lanier Hills Church Saturday morning. Lanier Hills took 10 pallets of food - some donated by J&J Foods, the rest delivered at-cost - and packaged 150 boxes containing six meals each. Ham, three sides, dessert and tea bags were on the menu, distributed by Under the Bridge Ministries at local public housing projects. The holiday food project totalled $13,000 between Lanier Hills and Lakewood Baptist Church distribution hubs, said J&J b...

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Under the Bridge Ministries continued its Thanksgiving season tradition of distributing boxed meals on Saturday in its most successful year yet, ministry founder Jason Ladd said.

“It’s grown so much. We did 3,000 meals last year and it exceeded 5,000 this year,” Ladd said.

Volunteers gathered in the morning to unload food from the J&J Foods truck at Lanier Hills church on Duckett Mill Road in North Hall County.

After packing hundreds of boxes with ham, canned vegetables, fruit and rolls, volunteers from five churches delivered the food to the community, where areas of need had been identified.

“We ended up giving out about 300 boxes at Melrose Apartments, then went over to Athens Street where we gave out another couple hundred,” Ladd said.

Fundraising was in the form of a $25 donation to sponsor a box, which Ladd said will feed up to six people, amounting to 5,700 meals provided.

“We had a goal of 5,000 meals this year, and we really blew that out of the water,” Ladd said enthusiastically. “We do the fundraising, and see what God gives us at the time.”

Ladd said continued economic woes for many families have kept the need in the community high.

“As far as the safety net, what people had — a lot of that is gone now,” he said, with high-poverty areas being especially affected. “We’ve all had hard times. So to take somebody who has nothing, and then they lose their job — the need is growing and you’ve got more people reaching out.”

Ladd faced his share of struggles in the past, and said he sees the work as a calling.

“For me, helping these people, I’ve always wanted to be as close as I can be to the Lord,” he said. “I’ve been in a position of not knowing where the next meal’s going to come from, so knowing that someone is out there that really cares, who wants to help with that next meal, that’s really gratifying.”

Ladd said growing participation from churches has been a blessing, and acknowledged the continued help of J&J Foods, and efforts from the youth side as well.

“Three Dimension is a youth team-based organization. They came out and supported us, and went out before us distributing lunches,” he said. “Centennial Arts Academy here in Gainesville, about three times a year their kids get together and pack lunches for the homeless. They made 300 lunches to go out today.”

Though Saturday’s food giveaway fed many people in the community, the work is never over, Ladd said, as Under the Bridge gets ready for Christmas.

“We’re gearing up for Christmas now, and we’d love to see more people volunteer,” he said.



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