LUMBERTON — A nonprofit based in Burgaw gave away more than 100 boxes of food to county residents Tuesday morning.

Cars lined up about 8:15 a.m. at the Robeson County Department of Public Health to receive food of which included items such as spiral hams, collards, fruit, flour, green beans and cake slices, from Mt. Calvary Center for Leadership Development and Piggly Wiggly in St. Pauls.

The food giveaway was part of the nonprofit’s program to serve people who have been affected by COVID-19, said Community Health worker Gena Oxendine, who works for the nonprofit.

A total of 109 boxes were distributed during the event.

“It’s a blessing to be able to serve the community,” said Oxendine, a Robeson County native, who also serves as an assistant pastor at Genesis Outreach Deliverance Center in Lumberton.

Lumberton resident Melody McKeithan was one of the people in line Tuesday at the Health Department, located on Country Club Road in Lumberton.

McKeithan said receiving the food meant a lot to her and her family.

“It means helping me out with groceries since COVID,” she said.

Her son recently came home from college, meaning there are five people in her household to provide for, McKeithan said. Receiving the boxes helped her better provide for them.

Lumberton resident Tiffany Brown said she was thankful for the initiative that helped her and others.

“It’ll help me with my family,” Brown said. “I feel grateful about it.”

David Drose, a supervisor at Piggly Wiggly in St. Pauls, delivered the boxes to the location with the help of his two sons, who also helped pack boxes into vehicles on Tuesday.

“It’s a good thing,” Drose said. “We’re glad to work with them.”

Community Health worker Vanessa Logan donned an orange reflective vest and directed traffic in the Health Department’s parking lot.

“It feels so good to be able to give back to the community and help families because during this pandemic people are really struggling,” she said.

Community Health worker Shenetta Barnes McMillian and her husband, Jimmy McMillian, loaded food boxes into vehicles. Shenetta McMillian said she was thankful to serve people affected by COVID-19, saying many people are out of work because of the virus.

“It’s good to help the community,” she said.

Giveaways in Hoke and Scotland counties also took place Tuesday, Oxendine said.

The nonprofit organization serves Robeson, Scotland, Hoke, Columbus, Bladen, Sampson, Duplin and Pender counties, with an average of 100 boxes distributed per county in various food giveaway events that ended Tuesday, Oxendine said.

“So, we’re feeding 800 families,” Oxendine said.

Reach Jessica Horne at 910-416-5165 or via email at

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BURGAW, N.C. (WECT) - The Mt. Calvary Center for Leadership Development is working to help those in need this holiday season, and provided food to families for the holidays Saturday morning.

“In collaboration and support from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and other supporters a large crowd quickly gathered in Burgaw at Mt. Calvary’s Leadership Center on Highway 117 for the distribution of holiday food boxes including a ham or turkey along with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Personal protective items were also distributed,” according to a press release from the group.

The event in Burgaw was just one of two events the group hosted today, another food drive was held in Duplin County Saturday as well.

“Mt. Calvary is committed to the citizens of Southeastern North Carolina and our outreach and support for our community has only increased during the challenges facing everyone during the pandemic. Center staff worked with area stores and suppliers to find the best products available. Their support in this project has been invaluable along with many other volunteers and the citizens of our community,” Mt. Calvary Center Executive Director Lisa Robinson said.

People have struggled this year due to the ongoing pandemic and the food boxes will help ensure those in need have food on the table during the holidays.

“I have heard about the good work that Mt. Calvary does and am so pleased to be able to receive a food box for the holidays. It is heart-warming to know that organizations such as Mt. Calvary step forward to try and provide resources to those in need. My work hours have been reduced due to the pandemic and it is really hard to be able to have everything you need for your family. The holidays would be a lot more difficult without the generosity of others,” Angela Castanon who received a food box said.

“Mt. Calvary will continue to provide a variety of community health outreach and support initiatives and offers numerous resources for those that may be impacted by the coronavirus. For more information, visit their website at,” the press release concludes.

Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.

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BURGAW, N.C. (WECT) - A group, informally known as the Mt. Calvary Regional Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Taskforce, that formed in the summer to address diversity, equality, and inclusion in the Pender region met Wednesday to develop a mission statement.

The committee, assembled by former Pender County commissioner Jimmy Tate, includes leaders in education, religious groups, and law enforcement.

[ New task force forms to address racial and social injustice ]

Melvin Herring, a college professor, led the way by helping the group brainstorm the overall purpose of the group to narrow down the mission.

“It needs to be something we can wrap our arms around, be proud of and stand out in front of...our centric message for additional outreach,” said Herring. “How are we operationalizing social justice? How are we making it tangible?”

The mission statement was not finalized but further discussion will continue at a future meeting.

The task force covered a variety of other topics including race relations, focusing on solutions to support underserved youth communities.

Participants discussed using virtual reality (VR) as a tool to support youth guidance in underserved communities and seeking funding from corporations for the purpose of expanding youth career exploration to narrow the academic success gap. The committee hopes to set up VR centers in different communities.

Workforce development in Pender County was also covered.

Members of the group emphasized the importance of industry as a part of the community to create economic opportunities for young talented workers, so they are not lost to urban locations with more job opportunities. The goal is to develop pipelines for industry in the Southeastern North Carolina region.

The task force, which was formed in August, now has 35 members. It typically meets the final Thursday of each month at the Mount Calvary Center for Leadership Development in Burgaw. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, most participants attend via Zoom.

Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.

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