First United Methodist Church is honoring one of its veteran food pantry volunteers at a luncheon Sunday.
Margery Johnson will be stepping down as the coordinator of the Community Food Pantry after 24 years on the job.
The food pantry is operated jointly by First United Methodist, First Presbyterian, Grace Episcopal and St. John's United Methodist churches.
"My wife and I are taking over Margery's place," said King Gore, the new volunteer coordinator from First Presbyterian Church. "It's going to take two people to do what she did."
Johnson said she became interested in volunteering with the food pantry shortly after she moved to Gainesville 25 years ago.
"I was new to Gainesville, and this was a good introduction for us," Johnson said. "That was something I was looking for, being helpful."
Johnson, 79, has certainly been helpful over the last 24 years she has been with the food pantry.
She had her hands full as the coordinator who set the schedule for volunteers from all the churches and made sure the shelves were stocked. The job also required a good deal of record-keeping and organization.
"I was training volunteers primarily and purchasing food if we didn't have enough donated," Johnson said. "We provide food for three meals for three days, but most of it lasts longer."
Johnson said she has seen the need for the pantry's services grow as the economy soured over the last few years.
"The need is really greater now than it has been in many years," Johnson said. "We're having more and more people to come in."
Gore said he and his wife, Yvonne, will have big shoes to fill.
"There's a lot of details," Gore said. "My wife said, ‘boy, Margery sure did a good job.'
"She understands the details of giving away food. You have to be generous. But on the other hand, you have to have rules. We'll miss her, but we have a legacy to keep up."
Johnson said she will be sad to leave the food pantry but is looking forward to taking some time to relax.
"I'll miss meeting with the people and getting to know all the volunteers," Johnson said. "It was a good experience helping others and knowing they've appreciated what we're doing."