UNION — A local ministry which provides food and household items to the needy of Union County is asking the Union County Council in helping find a building for storage.
Lifelong Union County resident Neil Keisler is the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church — located at 309 Barnado Road in a building which was formerly the Jaycee Hut — and the director of the church’s Channel of Blessings Ministry. The ministry pulls various churches, non-profit organizations, businesses and individuals together in an effort to reach out to the lowest income areas of Union County.
Keisler said the ministry works closely with the Union Housing Authority and other local agencies to go into eight separate locations throughout the county such as Chambertown, Horseshoe Circle, Hunt Drive, Fairforest Hotel, Pinckney Place, Whitney Place, Union Disabilities and Camp White Pines. So far this year, the ministry has helped 2,249 families (4,360 individuals) with more than 89,960 pounds of food and essential household items.
“This does not include the numerous youth and children programs we have supported as well,” Keisler added.
The Channel of Blessings has encountered a problem, however. The church building is too small to store all of the food items and household goods the ministry receives, and those involved are requesting that county council authorize County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair to assist them in finding a county-owned building to store the food and household items.
“We currently have goods spread out over four locations — Trinity, Mon-Aetna, Horseshoe Circle and Hammet Grove in Pacolet,” Keisler said. “Between all the locations, we use about 3,000 square feet of space. We desperately need more space and a centralized location in which to store, sort and ready these items for distribution.”
Keisler told county council the ministry is not looking for a building that anyone needs or is using.
“Most of the goods are non-perishable, so they can be stored in a dry area with no electricity,” he said. “We currently use a portable generator at the Pacolet warehouse, which is certainly not ideal, but it does work. We do, though, have six refrigerators, one cooler and two deep freezers that would require electricity, but I can keep them at a separate location for now if necessary. Again, that would not be ideal, but it would get us down to two locations.”
Keisler explained that Trinity’s church membership is about 25, most of which are retired, disabled or too young to work.
“With that said, our finances are extremely stable and God has blessed us with being debt free,” he said.
Keisler said almost all the products distributed through the ministry are donated, except for a small portion which is purchased at a very discounted rate.
“We operate the ministry on $25 a week,” he said.
He also mentioned that the ministry is in the process of putting a donated mini-van on the road for small pick-ups and deliveries, as well as a 17-foot box trailer to use for larger pick-ups.
“What we are hoping to get access to is a facility that is presently not being used that someone such as Union County would be willing to allow us to use at no charge or at a very low rate,” Keisler said. “We in turn would maintain the facility and be willing to vacate the facility if the facility was acquired or needed for other purposes. We will leave any place better off than it was when we got it.”
Sinclair expressed his approval of the request, mentioning to council that the request was not inconsistent with those from similar groups.
“As budgets are cut, these type groups are picking up the load,” Sinclair told council. “I don’t mind trying to work with him if y’all approve it.”
A motion was made by council member Ben Ivey; seconded by council member Kacie Petrie; then unanimously approved by county council.
For more information and/or to make a donation to Trinity Baptist Church and the Channel of Blessings ministry, call the Rev. Neil Keisler at (864) 706-0481.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.