LUMBERTON — Recipients of food boxes from the Robeson County Church and Community Center will be more satisfied after their meals thanks to BB&T.
The bank recently donated four commercial-sized freezers to the center, which means meat can be on the menu.
“I just think it’s awesome because it enables us to be a better ministry to the clients and residents of Robeson County,” said Darlene Jacobs, the executive director of the Robeson County Church and Community Center. “Before we weren’t able to provide meat along with the food boxes because we didn’t have the storage. Now we are able to have that luxury.”
The donation is part of a larger initiative by BB&T called the Lighthouse Project, which injected nearly $55,000 into the community this year. This year’s project, the third annual, also provided the Lumberton Christian Care, a van, a new stove, a freezer, four bunk beds, a computer and printer, kitchen utensils and canned goods. Lumberton Christian Care runs a soup kitchen that serves about 2,000 people a month and it also provides temporary shelter to as many as 12 people at a time.
“We are in dire need,”said Barbara Andrews, the chairman of the board at Lumberton Christian Care Center. “We are in a building that is almost 100 years old … It means that we’ve got a little bit better facility for our clients.”
The bank, for the second year in a row, also presented a book to every pre-kindergarten and kindergarten student in Robeson County.
“This was a treat for BB&T employees, since many were given the opportunity to read some of the purchased books which delighted many of the children,” said Cheryl Page, the operations production manager at BB&T.
BB&T also provided some elbow grease. Employees cleaned, served meals and did laundry at the soup kitchen, and also received and prepared for sale clothing donated to the Robeson County Church and Community Center’s Home Store. They also worked 200 hours at Repeat Performance Thrift Shop helping to get donations ready for sale.
“Over at the home store, we don’t have a consistent pool of volunteers, so for them to come in and provide all of that labor is tremendous,” Jacobs said. “It helps us get past that backlog, it helps us to get that clothing out there that folks need.”
In the back of the center, seven large wooden shelves have been added, along with $2,500 worth of food, all gifts from BB&T.
The Lighthouse Project touched the lives of more than 3 million people in 25 states during its first two years. BB&T employees volunteered nearly 100,000 hours in their communities.
“The concept is simple,” said Kelly King, the chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation. “We want every one of our employees physically working in their communities to make a tangible difference in people’s lives.”
BB&T employs more than 600 employees in Robeson County.
“As an employee of BB&T, I am so proud and honored to be a part of a company who cares so much about the communities in which we serve,” Page said. “Part of BB&T’s mission statement is ‘making the communities in which we work better places to be’ and I believe this is clearly what the Lighthouse Project reflects.”
The largest gift to the Robeson County Church and Community Center was $10,000 toward a FEMA shower trailer. The trailer, which costs $13,000, will allow mission teams to be comfortable when they travel here.
“We were in need of it since there’s only like eight churches in the county that have facilities large enough for us to be able to house mission teams,” Jacobs said. “So now we can have that here.”
The Robeson County Church and Community Center has provided emergency assistance for rent, utilities, medicine and other needs for more than 600 people and families since January. More than 5,000 people and families have been given food from its pantry this year.
“I think it’s just a shining example of how businesses can be in partnership with the church and community center to help with ministry to those who are in need and in crisis,” Jacobs said.