PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX)-A growing need within their own community prompted members of First Baptist Church in Pass Christian to open a food pantry.
It began the week before Thanksgiving. And this monthly ministry is a welcome refuge in this struggling economy.
The third Thursday each month small, homemade signs turn a church education building into: "The Pass Pantry".
Church members help distribute canned goods from food pantry, donated clothing of all kinds, and in this week before Christmas: bags of toys.
"We could fix a bag of toys for your children," said church member Nancy Crocker, as she spoke to a grandmother who stopped by the pantry.
"And maybe they'll enjoy some of these," said another church lady, passing a bag of goodies to a visitor.
"Oh, they will. Every little thing will help them this year," said Peggy Allen.
She is overwhelmed by the generosity. Church members playing Santa's helpers round up gifts for her grand children, one of whom, wants a bike.
"Well you know what? I got a bike," said a smiling Crocker.
"The time is so rough right now. And we've been so blessed with people giving to us that we wanted to reach out to the community and give back a little of what has been given to us," said Crocker.
Those who benefit from this new outreach ministry are beyond appreciative.
"I don't know what I'm going to do for Christmas, you know. But thank God for churches," said one grateful woman.
Peggy Allen says the tight times are making it difficult on so many families this year. That's why the First Baptist Pantry provides such a welcome boost right now.
"I just don't know, even how to say the words to appreciate it. 'Cause it just seems like the good Lord has been blessing us a lot here lately," she says.
"Our prayer is that we can continue to do this each month. And just be able to give back," says Crocker.
"Feel free to join us in our church too, we'd love to have you, okay? Merry Christmas!" said another church volunteer, as a visiting family left with a handful of clothes.
"Merry Christmas to you," came the grateful reply.
The "Pass Pantry" is open the third Thursday of each month from nine until noon.