‘We want to be a light’: Local family’s food pantry offers hope in a pandemic

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — When Kenya Joseph and her mom Sandra Marks started the Hearts and Hands food pantry in 2017, they had no idea what it would become and the void they’d help fill.

“Since COVID, so many people were laid off and furloughed, they need help,” Joseph said.

Channel 9 caught up with the women after a trip to the grocery store, in between their day jobs.

The shelves are packed full, but they won’t be for long.

“There’s a lot of people suffering right now, they have no hope. They don’t know where to turn,” Marks said.

Since the shutdown in March, the women said they have experienced a 500% increase in clients needing help with the basics. At the same time, donations are way down.

They’ve moved to an online-only appointment system so they can maintain social distancing.

“We have been rocking and rolling just trying to get everyone as much help as we can,” Joseph said.

The organization just received some welcome news after they were nominated and won an initiative from paper towel company Brawny.

“They’ve given huge cases of paper towels, which we know is a hot commodity right now, and they’ve also gifted us with $5,000 which is just incredible,” Joseph explained.

That money helps the small organization keep the lights on in the basement of the building where their food pantry sits. They serve people from Statesville to Rock Hill, with some even walking countless miles to get a little bit of help.

For that reason, the pantry is working to add a delivery service in the future. The women also created a clothing closet right before the pandemic.

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Although it’s closed for now, once things settle down with the coronavirus, people who need home or clothing items will be free to take what they need until they land back on their feet.

“We want to be a light and help people any way that we can,” Marks said.

The pantry is open Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, by appointment only. For more information click here.

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