Power of Prayer: God’s Closet works to eliminate hunger, give hope in Camp County

“They know that you can come to God’s closet and find anything you need, whether it’s friendship, prayer, and especially love.”
When people fall on hard times, many people in Camp County are looking in God's Closet for the help they need.
Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 8:56 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PITTSBURG, Texas (KLTV) - When people fall on hard times, many people in Camp County are looking in God’s Closet for the help they need.

The food and clothing pantry, located at 121 Jefferson St. in downtown Pittsburg, is open six days a week. Food, clothing, and other services are always available.

The nonprofit is entirely volunteer-run. Seven churches have provided the manpower, supplies, and financial support since 2009.

At the time, many of the congregations were operating separate food pantries, until a unique opportunity united their efforts.

“When Angela Saucier gave us a building next-door to use for this first God’s Closet downtown, we invited all churches to come together and be a part of God’s Closet,” said Director Alethea Smerdon, who has organized the ministry since day one.

“And that allowed them to take those individual shelves that was at each church and bring it together. And they can just donate their funds through here. Then we’ll order it from East Texas Food Bank.”

15 tons of food are distributed each month through God’s Closet. Drive-through food distributions are held every Saturday, as well as on the first Monday of each month.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of families benefiting from this service is now well over a thousand.

“During this whole pandemic time when people were more desperate for food before, I didn’t want people making desperate choices,” Smerdon said. “We want them to be provided for and know they’re loved.”

Clients are asked to pre-register for the food distribution. Some, hoping to beat the crowds, start lining up as early as 6:30 in the morning, hours before the drive-through opens. Emmanuel Baptist Church serves as a staging area, where cars are dismissed in waves to caravan to God’s Closet downtown. The process helps ensure an orderly and efficient operation.

For those with immediate needs outside the regular distributions, walk-ins are also accepted. Clients may browse a grocery department to collect refrigerated items, dry and canned goods, meats, and vegetables.

Daily operations require a small army of dedicated volunteers. Rex Davis has poured his heart and soul into doing “God’s work” over the last decade.

“We have to get out of the four walls. You have to walk to community and give water to the thirsty, clothes to those without clothes and food to the hungry.”

Working in the back loading area, Davis said his typical day is more than loading dozens of boxes into vehicles. Some clients also ask for spiritual encouragement.

“They know that you can come to God’s closet and find anything you need, whether it’s friendship, prayer, and especially love.”

Fresh fruit, dairy products, frozen meat, and even chocolates fill the cardboard crates that are carefully loaded into a steady stream of cars and trucks.

Each congregation rotates staffing assignments on certain days.

“And they own those days. And they’re responsible for those days,” Smerdon said. “And that makes it be more down into the bite-size pieces instead of trying to eat a whole elephant.”

Volunteer Rose Pasillas, a parishioner at Holy Cross Catholic Church, works on Mondays.

“It gives me a perspective for the rest of the week, knowing that I have helped and some minor way to be able to make life a little bit more pleasant for somebody in Camp County.”

Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Pentecostals, and people of other faiths work side-by-side, inspired by a servant’s heart.

“Denomination does not make any difference at all. We’re just here to help one another,” Pasillas said.

Volunteers manage paperwork, sort donations, fold clothes, stock the warehouse shelves, and unload deliveries from the East Texas Food Bank. No act of service is insignificant.

“I’m not sure we could make it without the help of others,” said Financial Secretary Linda Morris. “We have a tremendous amount of help.”

That generosity comes in from across Camp County. A steady stream of donations keep the thrift shop stocked with unique finds, clothes, collectibles, and more.

“We have people that come that have had a fire, a tragedy in there their personal life. And if we have furniture that they need, without any charge they can take what they need,” Pasillas said.

Proceeds from the re-sale shop are invested in food purchases for the pantry in a self-sustaining model.

The ministry also addresses the needs of particular groups and tackles seasonal needs in the community.

A special program for senior citizens provides an extra box of food each month. Volunteers even make deliveries to the home-bound.

God’s Closet has organized school supply drives, box fan drives, and provided Christmas presents and coats for children.

Smerdon says they want to be responsive to the immediate needs of their neighbors.

“Whatever it is that we see is a need, we’ll say, ‘We can do that.’ If God puts that need on our heart, then we say we can do that.”

Volunteers are always welcome, Smerdon said.

Power of Prayer
Power of Prayer

Do you have an inspiring journey of faith or know of a ministry that’s making a difference in your community? To share your experience with us, send an email by clicking here.

Click here to learn more about our long-running Power of Prayer series.

Copyright 2021 KLTV. All rights reserved.