AZ food bank recipient pays it forward to pastor - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

AZ food bank recipient pays it forward to pastor

(Source: Florence Baptist Church Food Bank) (Source: Florence Baptist Church Food Bank)

Compared to the jumbo Powerball jackpot, $500 doesn't seem like much, but it can be stretched to feed hundreds of needy Valley families.

The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for food banks.

The food bank at the Florence Baptist Church runs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and in November, served more than 14,000 people down on their luck.

Laurie Celaya is one of those people. She is losing her sight and without insurance, so she had to put all of her money towards two cornea transplants.

"I had a $2,000 bill to pay and I had no money for groceries after making payments on it," Celaya said.

Pastor Dale Storm said since the recession and with the recent closure of the Florence city hospital, the number of people needing food goes up every week.

"We see more of a working poor now than we've ever seen. People may have a job, whether it's part time or full time, but it's simply not enough to pay their bills," Storm said.

To make matters worse, the church recently lost its affiliation with the United Food Bank and volunteers suddenly find themselves with only a third of the food they normally pass out.

That's why Celaya, who credits the food bank with keeping her alive, wanted to pay it forward to the man behind so much giving.

"Since he's done all this for us, we're going to do something for him," Celaya said.

Just $3 can feed a family of four for two days.

The $500 Celaya paid forward will go a long way and it just may have rejuvenated a man emotionally bogged down by so much need.

"I'm overwhelmed. I am. You know, so many people, sometimes in what I do, you don't have a lot of people coming and patting you on the back telling you you're doing a good job," Storm said.

"To feel that people in the community can see what we're doing here and it's making a difference," Storm said. "This is unbelievable."

The Florence Baptist Church Food Bank opens its lines about 11:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They turn no one away.

If you'd like to help or learn more about the food bank, click here.

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