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Revival feeds the spirit, and community

BELHAVEN — A local church’s revival not only fueled the spirit, but it will feed the hungry in eastern Beaufort County.

First Christian Church in Belhaven hosted a three-day revival earlier this month, featuring music  and speakers, and raising money for Martha’s Corporation, the Belhaven organization that runs Martha’s Project Thrift Store and Food Pantry. Nearly $1,200 was donated by the church to Martha’s Corporation on Wednesday.

According to the First Christian Church board, the mini-revival made good on its mission statement: “First Christian Church is a gathering place for all people to worship God and attend the needs of others. By sharing God’s word and Holy Communion, we proclaim Christ is Lord and accept His redeeming grace through the Holy Spirit.”

Since 1897, First Christian Church has been serving the Belhaven community and, under pastor Charlie Greene, continues to serve by giving a boost to Martha’s Corporation, just in time for the holidays.

“Hopefully, this will buy a lot more turkeys,” said First Christian evangelism committee member Susan Smith.

Martha’s Food Pantry currently serves 145 families — a total of about 225 people — and is affiliated with Food Bank of the Albemarle. Though the organization incorporated in 2011, Martha’s has its roots in the slew of storms that hit eastern North Carolina in the late 1990s.

TOY STORY: The children’s section of Martha’s Project Thrift Store boasts clothes and toys, rivaling any children’s shop. All items sold in the thrift shop are used to buy food for the Martha’s Food Pantry. (Vail Stewart Rumley/Daily News)

“It started in 1996, with stuff that was donated for hurricane victims,” said Martha’s Corporation Board President Mildred Bowman.

Once hurricane victims’ needs were met, Free Union Baptist Church oversaw the sale of leftover donations at extremely low prices, and the focus shifted to helping those in need in the community. More churches volunteered to help, and when Martha’s outgrew its original location, it opened the sprawling facility on U.S. Highway 264 East in 2016. It’s part thrift store with clothes, home decorations, children’s toys, furniture, appliances and even medical equipment, and part food pantry with a once-a-month distribution day.

Everything is donated by the public and all sales of donations fund the food pantry, according to Elaine Hudnell, Martha’s Corporation bookkeeper. Items that can’t be sold are loaded into a semi-trailer truck which, when filled, is taken away and its contents packaged to deliver on mission trips abroad. Martha’s is paid by the pound for the mission donations.

“Nothing’s wasted here,” Bowman said.

That applies to federal and state food/funds, as well as donations from local retailers Food Lion and Acre Station — frozen and canned food is reserved for Martha’s clients, but produce donated by Food Lion every Friday and Saturday is available to all.

“We put it out, and anyone can take it. Most people know when we put it out,” Hudnell said.

Martha’s is always looking for more donations. Those who want a receipt for donated items can bring them during the thrift store’s hours from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, otherwise they can be dropped off at any hour in the collection area on the side of the store.

“The only things we don’t accept anymore are TVs and live animals,” Hudnell said, explaining that someone once dropped off a litter of kittens and bowl of goldfish at the store.

Even with a team of 60-plus volunteers, the Martha’s board is seeking more to help with the many daily tasks associated with running a thrift store and food pantry. To volunteer or donate, call 252-943-2124.