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Volunteer Diane Seymour fills a grocery bag with food while serving at the First United Methodist Church of Cape May Court House’s food pantry. 

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COURT HOUSE - “We serve a lot of people,” volunteer Diane Seymour said April 10, as she filled another grocery bag. A self-described “long-time member” of the First United Methodist Church of Cape May Court House, Seymour was one of two volunteers preparing bags of essential food items for those in need.

Seymour and Gill Sinkway, another volunteer, prepared over 60 bags of essential and miscellaneous items. Pantry shelves were well-stocked with donated canned goods and other non-perishable foods. While staying six feet apart, Seymour and Sinkway went about their work smiling.

“I’ve been involved for 27 years,” Sinkway said.

Mike Mowery, one of the pantry’s facilitators, explained the “new normal,” in a phone interview April 8.

Normally, clients enter the church’s social hall, where they are greeted and fill out a “basic” information sheet. Available items are selected from a list and then submitted, based on the number of people in the family.

If a client is hungry, a warm breakfast sandwich is available, along with a serving of applesauce or mixed fruit. Volunteer counselors sit at tables, ready to speak with whoever wants help.

“We try to meet physical and spiritual needs,” Mowery said.

A nurse takes blood pressure levels and gives recommendations regarding medication, while a volunteer offers activities for children.

“A lot happens behind the scenes,” said Mowery.

Gift cards to Shoprite are given for perishable items, such as milk, eggs, meat, etc. The bags are brought upstairs from the basement and are taken to the parking lot. 

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Volunteer Gill Sinkway joins Diane Seymour in preparing food for those in need during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Nothing in the social hall happens right now,” Mowery explained. Bags are picked up inside, but contact with others is temporarily restricted, per social distancing regulations. Toilet paper is now included in the bags, too.

As seasonal jobs are not opening due to COVID-19, Mowery said the number of younger people using the food pantry has increased. Their faces tell the story of Cape May County: an 80-year-old grandmother now cares for her grandchildren, and a woman, in her 40s, continues to recover after suffering two strokes.

The volunteers remain committed to helping as many as possible, fulfilling the verse listed on the church’s website (https://bit.ly/2Kmti9M).

“When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35)

The food pantry is open during the third Saturday of each month, from 9:30-11:30 a.m.

To contact Rachel Rogish, email rrogish@cmcherald.com.

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