FREEPORT, TEXAS – In mid-August, when Mary Heckler read in her local newspaper that The Salvation Army Food Pantry in Freeport, which helps to feed 160 of her neighbors each month, was running dangerously low on supplies, she decided she had to do something about it.
She reached out to Majors Mario and Maria Maldonado, administrators of the Salvation Army in Freeport, with an idea. “When Mary spoke to me,” recalls Major Maria Maldonado, “she said, ‘I am Mary Heckler. I have a weight problem—I have 200 pounds to lose—and I need some motivation. I decided the only way that I could lose weight was if it helped people.’” And so the idea for Mary’s Project was born.
Mary’s Project is simple enough: Mary asks people to pledge to match each pound of weight she loses by donating a pound of food to one of three charities, including The Salvation Army Food Pantry in Freeport.
“Mary’s Project is a real blessing to us,” Major Maldonado says. “We have been filling record numbers of food requests all summer.” In fact, the number of requests for food assistance The Salvation Army Food Pantry has received so far in 2010 has doubled over last year. The majority of the cases served are first-time clients. “We have seen an increase in requests for assistance across all of our programs and services,” Major Maldonado explains, “not just in our Food Pantry. But we are especially troubled by the lack of basic necessities; too many of our children, seniors, and families are going hungry because there’s just not enough money to cover monthly bills and groceries too.”
The Salvation Army Food Pantry, which is located at 1618 Avenue J in Freeport, operates Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m., year-round and relies heavily on donated food items to meet the community’s increasing need for basic groceries. To stock the Food Pantry, The Salvation Army accepts donations of funds as well as nonperishable food items (pasta, cereal, soups, canned meats and vegetables), breads and baked goods, and baby and hygiene items such as diapers, formula, and wipes.
Mary’s Project officially launched on September 1, 2010, with the creation of a Facebook page. “I have done it! Mary’s Project is up and running,” she writes in an email to Major Maldonado dated that same day. Within six days, Mary gained 49 Facebook supporters and pledges totaling 10 pounds for each pound she loses. Mary has also created a Yahoo Group (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/marysproject/) and, through that group, has already received a 3-to-1 pledge (three pounds of food will be donated for each pound she loses).
If you would like to support The Salvation Army Food Pantry in Freeport, you can pledge your support through Mary’s Project on Facebook or Yahoo Groups. Direct donations of nonperishable food, canned items, and baby and hygiene items may also be dropped of at 1618 Avenue J, Freeport, Texas 77541, Monday through Friday. Monetary donations may be mailed to: The Salvation Army Food Pantry, 1618 Avenue J, Freeport, Texas 77541.
If you are in need of basic food items from The Salvation Army Food Pantry, please call 979-233-5420 to make an appointment.
The Salvation Army Food Pantry Location: 1618 Avenue J Freeport, Texas 77541
Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.