Linda Henry says the number of clients seeking food at the Second Chance Food Pantry in Albertville has sharply declined recently.

She’s hoping it is a matter of local residents simply not needing their services.

“People are getting their stimulus money, tax refunds and extended unemployment benefits right now,” she said. “Maybe they just don’t need our help. And I appreciate that they aren’t coming if they don’t need.

“But we are still here for those who do need us. And everyone will be treated with dignity and respect.”

Located at 217 S. Cahill Road in Albertville, the pantry gives out prepackaged boxes of food each Wednesday and Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., or until the food runs out, whichever comes first.

A grocery cart packed with a large box of produce, bakery items and meat is given along with a second box containing canned goods, pantry items and other non-food items as available is given to each family meeting requirements.

Each client must bring a proof of residency in Marshall County (rent receipt or utility bill), a photo ID, proof of income for every working person in the household and a list of everyone living in the household.

Each client will go through an interview and a “mean’s test” to verify that they are living in poverty.

Henry said the application process has been streamlined and the volunteer workforce has been revamped to provide more compassionate service to all who seek assistance.

“We are a faith-based ministry,” Henry said. “We are here to serve. We are here to be Jesus’ hands and feet.

“God has something big time in store for us. We know this because the Devil is working to destroy what we have built over the past 22 years.”

Each applicant is asked if they want to pray with a staff member, and if so, the prayer is done in private, Henry said.

“It is not something everyone chooses, but we make it available for everyone,” she said.

Many of Second Chance’s clients are of Haitian descent, Henry said. Many others are Hispanic.

“About a third of our clients are Caucasian,” she said. “All our applications are in English and Spanish. We have bi-lingual volunteers.”

Food donations are always welcome, Henry said, and suggested items include all types of canned goods, peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, pastas, cooking oil, cereal, oatmeal, cookies, flour, sugar, coffee, tea and powdered milk, and items not covered by Food Stamps, including diapers, hygiene products, dish detergent and laundry detergent.

Marshall County Christian Services is an umbrella for many ministries, including Hope of Albertville (formerly the Christian Women’s Job Corp), Second Chance Thrift Store and The Closet, all in Albertville and Rooted in Arab (formerly the Christian Women’s Job Corps) and TESA Thrift Store.

Hope of Albertville currently has 11 women enrolled. Of those, seven are Hispanic women. Three of the women are taking English as a Second Language classes, Henry said.

“We’ve tried for years to get the Hispanic community involved, but it is hard,” she said.

The program changed names recently in an effort to better define what the program provides.

“People immediately read ‘job corps’ and thought we were in the business of providing jobs,” Henry said. “We provide life skills and training, but we don’t ensure job placement.”

Classes are held three days a week for 12 weeks, providing training in life skills, ESL tutoring, educational GED preparation and job skills classes for women ready to make life changes.

“Bible study is a major factor in everything we do,” Henry said.

Classes are offered twice a year. All required materials, including a Bible, are offered free of charge to each participant. Our Kid’s Class program is designed to take care of preschool children while their mothers take part in the program. Lunch is provided by local churches.

To learn more, call Selina Carroll, at 256-891-2430 or 256-298-1091.

The Second Chance Shop, at 113 Sand Mountain Drive East, is a thrift shop selling clothing, furniture and household items donated by people in the community. Hours are Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The Closet is a clothing program supporting local foster parents and foster children by giving out new or gently used clothing free of charge.

Volunteers are always needed, Henry said, for the many programs offered. Call the Second Chance Ministry Center at 256-891-2430 for more information.

Tax-deductible donations may be made to Marshall County Christian Services, P.O. Box 1463, Albertville, AL 35950.

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