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How Sunshine Seniors celebrated six years of service
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Jocelyn Glasper, a volunteer with Sunshine Seniors, hands off a bag of food during Sunshine Seniors' sixth anniversary celebration at St. John Baptist Church on Friday, June 14, 2019. The organization is celebrating with a massive food drive and giveaway. - photo by Austin Steele

“Stop!” shouted Steve Mueller, operations director for the Georgia Mountain Food Bank. “Put it in park.”

Mueller was directing traffic as scores of vehicles snaked through the parking lot of St. John Baptist Church on Friday afternoon, June 14, with volunteers ready to fill their trunks with bags of fresh produce and other food.

The drive-thru-style occasion marked the sixth anniversary of the twice-weekly food drives hosted by the Sunshine Seniors, a Gainesville ministry most active in the city’s minority and lower-income neighborhoods.

“What this means to me is that we’re able to reach more people than would normally come,” said Belinda Hailey Dickey, a longtime leader with Sunshine Seniors. 

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Volunteers carry food to place in vehicles during Sunshine Seniors' sixth anniversary celebration at St. John Baptist Church on Friday, June 14, 2019. The organization is celebrating with a massive food drive and giveaway. - photo by Austin Steele

“We’re just so grateful to be of service to this great community. It’s just such a blessing to give back and I’m glad that God has assigned our hands to do what we do to his pleasure.”

According to Kay Blackstock, executive director of the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, which partners with Sunshine Seniors, vegetables, fruit, staples such as milk and bread, and fresh meat were made available to about 250 families.

That adds up to about 30-35 pounds per family.  

Blackstock said Sunshine Seniors have been a model for collaboration with the Food Bank, which works with food pantries, homeless shelters, daycare centers and other agencies across a five-county region.

Blackstock said donations from Atlanta Community Food Bank helped make the food drive possible, as well as other events the Georgia Mountain Food Bank has scheduled for this weekend.

Denise Sosebee, a Gainesville resident, called the event a blessing.

“We thank God for it,” she added.

“We’re a caring bunch of people,” Dickey said. “We also do workshops a couple times a year because we want to empower the people we serve.”  


How to support Sunshine Seniors

  • Monetary donations can be mailed to Sunshine Seniors, 1280 Athens St., Gainesville, 30507, in care of District 2 Public Health
  • For more information on other ways to support, call Belinda Hailey Dickey at 770-654-9922

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