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Drakestown United Methodist Church’s Friendship Hall Helps People in Need

Jun 20, 2022 09:07AM ● By Elsie Walker

Hazel Shue of Budd Lake sorts through donations for the food pantry from a local school food drive.

The sign on the building says Friendship Hall.    The building is aptly named as it is home to two outreaches the Drakestown United Methodist Church does for the community.   Its hall is the home to the church’s food pantry and is a meeting place for Alcoholic Anonymous groups and an Overeaters Anonymous group.  The church and its hall are located a 6 Church Road in Hackettstown. 
The Drakestown United Methodist Food Pantry is open twice a month:  the second Saturday of a month from 11am – 1pm and the last Monday of a month from 2pm – 4pm.    There are three church members, Hazel Shue, Frank Kildren, and Sharon Kidder, all of Budd Lake, who primarily do the pantry ministry.  The church’s pastor is Rev. John Callanan.
Callanan noted that while the majority of the items are non-perishable (canned soup, vegetables, spaghetti, ravioli, etc.), the pantry has quite a range depending on the season and month.   For example, around Easter, there were frozen turkeys.  At other times, there may be frozen chicken or sausage.  Also, in season, the pantry gets donations of certain types of fresh vegetables and fruit.   The church has a relationship with one farmer and also gets farm vegetables through its collaboration with the Interfaith Food Pantry of Long Valley and through the Mount Olive Community Garden.  Also, through its collaboration with the Interfaith Food Pantry of Long Valley, the church’s pantry gets bread and rolls. 
One of the unique things about the pantry is that there are no eligibility requirements that must be met.   “We don’t participate in any programs that require us to limit our clients.”   Another unique quality of the pantry is that it was created as a “stop gap”.  Callanan noted that people would go to a pantry the first week of a month and the food would run out before the end of the month.   The Drakestown pantry helps to fill that gap.   Callanan noted that people come to the pantry from 7 – 8 municipalities on a regular basis and people can pick what they want from what is available. 
The church has a used clothing drop off shed through which it raises some money for the pantry.   The clothing received goes to Turnkey Enterprises that resells the clothing in Eastern Europe.  The church receives a small amount per pound for the clothing the organization collects from it.
“It is a win-win.  People who donate know the clothing is not shredded but helps others, while the funds received help people in the local area [through the pantry]”, shared Callanan. 
The collection shed is marked with a sign and has a chute for depositing clothing.   A sign on the shed explains that the only items accepted are “all clothing, shoes, sneakers, belts, purses, blankets, sheets, drapes, pillowcases, and stuffed animals.” To keep donations clean and dry, it is asked that items be donated in a plastic bag.
Also, the pantry has been helped by a local school.  The Benedict A. Cucinella Elementary School in Long Valley holds a food drive for the pantry.  It started with one of the kindergarten classes doing it and now the whole school has gotten involved.  “We really appreciate the staff and the kids who help,” said Callanan.
For questions on the pantry, donating or receiving food, call 908-852-4460 and leave a message on the answering machine.
Another important outreach of the church is its hospitality in providing its Friendship Hall as a meeting place for eight Alcoholics Anonymous Groups and one Overeaters Anonymous Group.    The former includes the recent addition of people from two groups which formerly met at a local hospital but had to find a new location due to COVID restrictions.  All the groups are independent of the church; the church provides them a stable place to meet.   For meeting times for the groups, people can check the website for Alcoholics Anonymous or Over-Eaters Anonymous.
“Supporting recovery is an important ministry,” said Callanan. 
Finally, the pastor was quick to add one other outreach of the church:  its weekly Sunday service at 10:30am, which not only can be attended in person, but also online via zoom.   To get the sign-on to link to the Sunday service via zoom, email [email protected]