Interview by Trina Wilcox at 88.3 The Wind Radio
Trina: Sometimes when you think about food banks, you think Crosslines, Ozark Food Harvest, but you have something unique.
Margaret Sherman: Memphis and I have run a small food pantry out of our laundry room since 2009. We’ve got some family and friends who came to partner with one of our food baskets at Thanksgiving and were able to help an insurmountable number of families when we were able to partner several people together.
And from there it took off. Memphis and I volunteer at shelter food lines and some of the hotels that have families stay there through the year when families fall on hard times. There’s hungry kiddos getting on the bus in record numbers. Poverty is huge right now. And with the downfall of the economy, these kids are staying at hotels all throughout Greene county and families are living not just out of their cars, but with family friends and they’re not able to qualify for the assistance through the food banks or food drives when you have to have the right information, social security cards, etc. Sometimes when you’re staying with family, they don’t have that information.
So, Memphis and I were able to collect and partner with several people in that first year and make that pantry just take off. It’s harder now - the families continue to call. We don’t have a ton of partnerships, but we have an amazing God and He provides. Every time we assume it is time to shut down, we collect. Memphis and I understand that we get only 100 years to live and we need to make a difference. And, in Luke 3, God said, 'If you have two shirts, you share one. If you have food, share that too.
Our family holds pretty steadfast to that. And we really pray that we are able to do that. We’re not always good at it and sometimes we don’t have exactly what a family wants, but we have what they need and we’re able to provide that.
Trina: That’s amazing. Like you said, that’s not something you always think about, like needing ID just to survive and feed your family.
Margaret: Right. Memphis and I often think sometimes even if you look back - those times maybe you and I growing up -when you didn’t have enough, your family would step in. It’s not a day in time where you have your family living next door. It’s not a day in time where it isn’t normal to have kids grow up in foster care or living with a grandma. Or grandma’s friend. So that information is not in abundance. It’s not rare for families to come in with no identification at all but they come in with a need. They’re hungry. That’s the end of where our questions go. It’s not often that our pantry is taken advantage of. These families come full circle. We have two, three, four families that come in every five days. It’s often those same families that come back the next few months to donate. I get emotional about that. It’s sometimes those families that come back to donate.
Trina: That is so kind.
Margaret: That is kind.
Trina: When…how are you sure people…I mean how is the word getting out? By word of mouth or are you doing anything special to share that you are there for them?
Margaret: Anytime Memphis and I have an abundance of food or hygiene products or canned goods, we post it on Memphis on a Mission. Everybody knows someone that has less than we do. We don’t always get the calls from there. Lots of times we get calls from connections we have with a local elementary school, at church or at a senior services site. These citizens come in record numbers. At Christmas and summertime, we have an overabundance of people coming in. Through the year, we have a balance of four to six families per week and they come in and they hear about it through someone that has heard about it and they told them. I’ve seen our info posted at Price Cutter and Petsmart. I don’t know. Obviously, we’re thankful and God provides.
Trina: You mentioned Memphis on a Mission. Tell me a little bit about that.
Margaret: Our 8-year-old little girl started a bake sale years ago when her friend was sick. She did a series of bake sales and raised $12,000 for this kiddo and his treatment, and then the following spring, her very best friend fell ill as well so we ran a bake sale and raised about the same amount. We did not have anybody else fall ill but we did see a need with Sammy’s Window. We did a food drive for some of his families. We are foster parents in Greene county and so is he. He needs diapers, food - and we ran a bake sale and it was able to fill his pantry. Ours was going low in November and we’ve tried to never say no. We were able to run a bake sale and we had nine cans left after that week of serving the families, so it was definitely a godsend. Memphis on a Mission partners with anything and everything. We try to help where we are needed. We can’t service all but we do pray to find the resource for the families who call.
Trina: Okay for friends who do want to connect, that is on Facebook for Memphis on a Mission. What a kind kiddo to step up and do that. Very nice. Tell us about some of your needs right now.
Margaret: The needs for our pantry are always most basic and most simple. We don’t have a way to store perishables for meat. If someone requests meat, we will take from our own freezer. The first things kids will ask for are peanut butter and beans. Those are huge. There have been times where they will take any vegetable. They don’t look at the front of the can. It’s unreal the amount of generosity that we get to partner with and the people that come donate. At the same time, the people that come in are humbled and that is hard to see. So, we pray with them and invest in their story. And then, we hope that we can provide a small amount of food or whatever will get them through. We sometimes see them two to four weeks at a time, but then it does come full circle.
Trina: How has this changed you and Memphis?
Margaret: Oh, man. I think getting to see foster care here in Greene county and getting to adopt four children of my own and seeing that our story was never about us. We can assume that we are helping these people. I again mentioned 2009. We hear time and time 'You are helping so many people', but the truth is these people have changed our story and everything about us. We have no idea where this is going or where our pantry is going. We know that sometimes it’s overflowing or taking over our laundry room and I see Memphis taking inventory at 11:00 at night with canned goods and telling me what she needs or saying, 'Can we budget for corn, Mom?' Memphis and I are working it out and praying through it but in the end, I really pray that the good has come from getting to meet people and do life with them and for them to see that it came from us being at that same position or in the same spot at one time in our own story.
Trina: What do you hope to see in the near future from the fruits of your labor?
Margaret: Probably in my own children. I pray that they can carry it on in some capacity. My 8-year-old is over at a shelter right now and she gets to serve and play with other kids. It’s a playdate for her. She gets to do life with kids that have less that we do but she’s also able to relate because she sees her sisters have come from some brokenness and at any time, it could be any of us. If our children can remain humble and stay intact with the understanding that everybody is equal and we’re all here to make a difference. And, if you can leave the Earth better than you found it, then you have done something right. And I pray, I pray that we have done something right.
Trina: You’ve probably had a lot of stories /connections that have really impacted you. Is there one specifically that sticks with you?
Margaret: We have a unique family dynamic in our own family. We do have a set of four siblings that come in. We’ve never met their parents so we don’t let them come into our home because we have to protect us and our home. The older brother drives his neighbor’s car. We met them through helping with Christmas gifts. And he comes and he takes anything we have. Sometimes, it is laundry soap, toothpaste or food and he’s overly thankful. His siblings are probably age 8, 10 and 12 maybe, but he as the older brother is such a leader and he teaches me every time I see him that I am enough and I’m doing enough and that he matters, and that everyone in this circle is trying and all we are doing is walking each other home. I love that he can teach me that. He’s a student here in town and we got to help him with school supplies. He brought back two notebooks because he didn’t need them. THAT changes me. These type of things change me.
Trina: If someone wants to help you, what can they do?
Margaret: Memphis and I are always open to help or assistance. If someone wants to provide some needs to the pantry or if they want an address or a telephone number - families are open to deliveries because they cannot make it to our property or don’t have transportation. With my five children, I can’t jump out and deliver groceries but if anyone wants to do that, we can always use that or we can take donations.
Tina: Is the best way to contact through Facebook on Memphis on a Mission?
Margaret: Sure. If you find it through Facebook, that would be the best way. My 8-year-old and my husband do partner through messages there.
Trina: Has this made your family tighter?
Margaret: Yes. Literally. Tighter. This is where all our extra funding goes…to the pantry and food baskets. Right now, we’re doing a school drive.. This is our vacation. This our story right now.
Trina: Any last things you want people to know?
Margaret: I think there is an insurmountable amount of opportunity in Springfield to be the difference and to help and to make a change and to restore hope in someone and to restore hope in someone’s story. We’ve had that in our own life. So many people around this area have given us hope when we’ve lacked it, and they’ve restored hope when our pantry wasn’t up and running as well or as great. In this city alone, there is opportunity to volunteer, to serve and to partner with your little people - to get out there and make a difference and show your kiddos that being humble is what matters and being humble brings happiness and I think again, God supplies that provision and helps us understand where we count.
To learn more about Memphis on a Mission and to get involved, click HERE.
Interview by Trina Wilcox at 88.3 The Wind Radio