MARIETTA - The Gospel Mission Food Pantry is entered in a nationwide contest that could help it win money to better stock the pantry with groceries.
"We felt so blessed to be nominated," said Candy Waite, who runs the mission along with her husband, Jeff, and a small army of volunteers.
The Gospel Mission is one of four food pantries in the contest. To win, the pantry needs to receive the most votes on the blog which is sponsoring the contest, "Free Tastes Good! Saving and Sharing for Christ."
The site is run by extreme couponer, Joni Meyer, of Toledo, who said she likes to use the blog as a way to challenge her readers to step up and get involved in community outreach.
"This is our third contest that we're doing and it is just kind of neat to see how everyone rallies around their community," said Meyer.
Meyer, who has been featured five times on the show "Extreme Couponing" on TLC, aims not only to help the food pantries monetarily but also by teaching them to get the most bang for their buck.
In addition to an unspecified monetary prize, the winning food pantry would also win a customized shopping list and coupons that Meyers will put together after researching local grocery stores.
"All the food banks are hurting right now because of the economy. We people that coupon need to really step up and teach them how to make their dollar go farther," said Meyer.
Winning this contest would be a huge blessing for the Gospel Mission Food Pantry, which operates solely on donations, said Candy Waite.
"We only take donations because we want to be able to provide as much as we can to as many people as we can," explained Waite.
Food pantries that receive state or federal assistance can be forced to place restrictions on how wide an area they service and how much assistance each individual receives.
On Wednesday, the pantry had helped provide food to 40 individuals within the first half hour of opening. That number would easily surpass 100 by the end of the day, estimated Waite.
Sometimes handling the demand is a struggle, but Waite said she always tackles obstacles with a positive attitude.
"God always provides when we are in need," said Waite.
When Waite and her husband were forced to close the pantry's previous Franklin Street location last year, Gary Murphy came forth and offered to let the pantry set up shop on his property at 309 Franklin St.
Since moving to its current location 11 months ago, the pantry has served more than 4,000 individuals.
As the line of patrons waited to pick up groceries on Wednesday, Waite and her team of volunteers handed out slips of paper with the voting website written on it.
"Everybody just vote once a day until Saturday," Waite urged the large crowd filing through the pantry doors.
The pantry accepts and distributes donations from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays; and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
To vote, visit www.freetastesgood.com and type "Gospel Mission" into the search bar at the top. This will take you to the post where you can scroll down, enter your name and e-mail, and select the Gospel Mission Food Pantry.