“Tuesday night was just unbelievable. I mean, we ran out of food. We didn’t get to feed everybody,” Carol Brailey, co-founder of Faith Restorations food pantry says, worrying about the 5 or 6 cars at the end of the line that didn’t get anything. “Hopefully they’ll be in line this morning and be able to get something for their families.”
It’s the first time in the pantry’s four-year history that they’ve run out of food, a sign of hard times made exponentially harder by the COVID-19 pandemic and the strict physical distancing rules meant to slow the virus’ spread that have brought mass layoffs and economic desperation to many families who were already living paycheck-to-paycheck.
“We had cars yesterday (Thursday, April 9th) that ran from Monaca all the way up the hill to the Eat ‘N Park, blocking the whole road,” says John Leonard, a longtime volunteer at the pantry. Before the pandemic, Faith Restorations was feeding 3,000 families a month, distributing roughly 100,000 pounds of food. Those numbers have doubled in recent weeks with families lining up hours early and volunteers stretched to the max.
A caregiver to his elderly wife, John continues to faithfully serve at the pantry, only now with the addition of a mask and gloves for extra protection.
“We always welcome people to come down and help down here,” he says, with an impenetrable cheerfulness, noting that for those who can’t physically volunteer, donations of canned goods, cereal, peanut butter, bread, diapers, pads, or financial support are just as important to keeping the operation running. (You can leave these donations on the side porch shown here):
Carol and her husband Dave, a veteran of the Vietnam War, founded Faith Restorations in 2003 to “help restore their faith in God and humanity” by building and repairing homes for local veterans. In 2016, they opened a food pantry from their Brighton Township home. As the need grew, so did their operation, which is now run out of a former union hall at 186 Wagner Road in Monaca. 200,000 pounds of food passed through the warehouse in the last month on its way to feed nearly 6,000 local families through direct distributions and to other local nonprofits, like TRAILS Ministry in Beaver Falls and Little Free Pantry, run by House of Prayer Lutheran Church in Aliquippa.
“It’s hitting everybody hard with not working, unemployment checks not coming in,” says, “and what’s more important than having food on your table?”
If you, like us, are inspired to help these helpers, here’s what you can do:
Show up! Volunteering is an important exception to the state’s stay-at-home order, and is encouraged when done safely. That means wearing a mask, gloves, and maintaining six feet of separation from others.
Drop off donations. Call your neighbors or a local business and ask them if they can donate any food or hygiene items. If they can, have them leave the items outside on a porch (just like the postal carriers do every year for their food drive). Bring them to Faith Restorations anytime during the week (M-F).
Give generously. While many of us have lost our incomes, some of us are able to work from home and aren’t suffering economically. If you’re in this category, please make a donation to support the vital work of Faith Restorations.
“It’s not always roses, sometimes it's dandelions, but you have to help each other. Be kind, be patient, be loyal, be servants.”
- Dave Brailey, Faith Restorations, Inc. co-founder