Giving back in whatever way you can is a powerful thing. For Tandy Bennett, it has been a motto she has always tried tolive by. A resident of Chinquapin, LA, Tandy began volunteering at the Head of Island Food Pantry over 20 years ago following the passing of her father. Even then, she sought to help others.
“When my dad passed away, I had to find something to do so I started to volunteer at the Head of Island Food Pantry,” Bennett said. “I had a van at the time and mom went to that church. She told me they needed someone to go to the Food Bank to help get groceries over to the church. I said I have a van and can do that, so I offered to go.”
At the onset, Bennett told the staff that she just wanted to volunteer. But after some time, the staff there recognized she was in need and that she qualified for food assistance. They encouraged her to not feel awkward about participating in the program while also volunteering because she was giving her time for others who need help also.
“I told them that I just wanted to volunteer, and they insisted that I should also get a box,” she said. “When the lady that ran Head of Island passed away, the food pantry there closed and so I started to come to Hebron Baptist Church.”
Tandy, along with her high school classmate and neighbor Ronnie, make the drive once a month to Hebron to participate in the food distribution. On this occasion, Ronnie and Tandy brought two homemade strawberry pies for the volunteers working the distribution that day.
“Ronnie and I usually come together. He insists on driving so I let him,” Bennet said. “The people and the atmosphere here is great. They are family to us now. The people here are so loving and caring and they make sure nobody walks out of here empty handed. We do what we can to give to others also.
Tandy admits that times have been a bit harder as of late as prices of groceries and gas have continued to climb making it more difficult to acquire what they need.
“With all the prices going up, it is hard when you are trying to make ends meet,” she said. “I have a grown son and boyfriend who live with me, and it is hard to provide enough food for a grown boy. So, it is rough, but by the Grace of God and the people here we get through it.”
Still, in the face of it all, she wishes there were more she could do to help others.
“I would love to be able to donate food to fill all these pantries myself,” she said. “I wish I could do more to help. I’m very thankful that people give to the Food Bank, and they should know that every food donation they make is a blessing to someone here. It makes a big difference.”