‘Especially in trials, our community gets stronger’: Lakeland food pantry gets helping hand after it’s destroyed by arson

‘Especially in trials, our community gets stronger’: Lakeland food pantry gets helping hand after it’s destroyed by arson

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — New Testament Ministries on S. Combee Road in Lakeland is once again stocked with hundreds of turkeys and fixings that will be given out ahead of Thanksgiving Day.

Just last week, its founder was unsure what the future held.

“When I first met you last week, I had no idea what was ahead of me, what I’m thinking to do,” Dais Abraham told an 8 On Your Side reporter Tuesday.

Authorities said an arsonist set the food pantry on fire. In the five days since, non-profit organizations and community members have come forward to lend a hand.

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“Crazy number of people coming in and helping and cleaning up the place, setting up the place, bringing donations, bringing food, bringing turkeys,” said Abraham.

To Abraham, the benefit of disaster is seeing people come together.

“We heard it on the news. We saw that the fire hit. We heard that they were taking donations and it’s what we do so I was glad to help in any way we can,” said Lynn Mollett, of Lynn’s Catering of Tampa.

Like many others, Mollett dropped off boxes of nonperishable items Tuesday.

“I think it’s awesome. I get goosebumps thinking about it. There are people coming from all over. It’s God’s work. It’s what we should do,” said Mollett.

Also on Tuesday, Metropolitan Ministries dropped off 500 turkeys and 500 boxes of Thanksgiving sides, as well as produce provided through Feeding Tampa Bay.

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Metropolitan Ministries was not previously affiliated with the food pantry.

“When we saw this story over the weekend, we knew that we had to do something to support them and more importantly support the people that are relying on them for a meal and help this Thanksgiving,” said Rob Lamke, vice president of operations & facilities at Metropolitan Ministries.

Lamke explained, donations are lower this year and the need is higher.

“The area that we’re in right now is an area of need as we would call it. So we have no doubt that this pantry was doing an incredible service to this community,” he said.

Abraham vows to continue his mission of serving his community.

He said somebody reached out to him to provide space for an expanded food pantry.

On Wednesday, people can pick up their turkeys and sides to make Thanksgiving dinner in the food pantry parking lot at 2938 S. Combee Road from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., while supplies last.

“The best thing is you see a stronger community that we have. Especially in trials, our community gets stronger,” said Abraham.

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