Our world today seems like a different place than it did just a few short months ago. Things continue to change daily here in northern Mississippi, but one thing is certain—the need for food is at an all time high. Basic items remain in short supply at the supermarkets and, for too many, the current economy prevents many families from being able to purchase what is available.
The rate of unemployment is high and unemployment compensation here can be as low as $30 a week. People who had steady jobs suddenly found themselves with only a fraction of their previous income. They joined the families living in poverty searching for food and ways to pay their bills. The nutritious food we provide through your generous support does more than quench hunger.
It brings comfort and the reassurance that others care and are concerned.
Sacred Heart Southern Missions has expanded our efforts to meet the growing needs of those who come to our doors for assistance. Our six social service offices maintain food pantries, providing meat, produce and staples. Food is distributed just as quickly as it arrives.
In addition to these local food pantries, we sponsor county-wide food distributions at more central locations. Prior to March, 2020, these were held once a month in DeSoto and Marshall Counties. The number of people served at these events has more than doubled since March. We have added additional food distributions each month to ease the financial burden. By providing food, families have money to cover other necessities.
Maria’s family received food at one of the distributions recently.“We haven’t had a paycheck in many weeks…this food is such a blessing! Thank you.”
Summer is a particularly difficult time for families living in poverty. During the school year, children receive free or reduced fee lunches at school. For several summers, we have provided a hot lunch and snack for students in Walls. We have added a second summer feeding site in Holly Springs.
Our soup kitchen, the Garden Café, continues to provide hot nutritious meals on two evenings a week, despite social distancing rules. Though we have gone from a dine-in to a carry out service, hungry families are showing up in record numbers. According to our food coordinator, these numbers have jumped 25% in recent months.
“If it weren’t for what we do, these folks would really be hurting,” said Ralph. “You can see the relief on their faces. Sometimes we are able to give them something extra like a little bag of produce—they are so grateful.”
It is your kindness that makes all of this lifesaving work possible. Thank you!
Another academic year is over. For the students at Sacred Heart and Holy Family, COVID-19 changed the way these students completed their studies. It also put the kibosh on traditional largescale promotional ceremonies for the Class of 2020.
At Sacred Heart, the traditional year-end blessing of the eighth graders was held in the school chapel. Instead of the students being present, larger than life photos stood in their place, and the Mass was live-streamed for the young people and their families.
At Holy Family, instead of walking across the stage, students and their families drove up one by one to the front doors of the school. Proudly wearing signature blue cap-and-gowns (and the required face masks), students got out of their respective cars to receive their diplomas, each pausing for a quick photo.
In keeping with social distancing guidelines, both schools held year-end drive-by celebrations in the school parking lots. Cars were decorated with posters, streamers and balloons to celebrate the rite of passage. In lieu of a gym crowded with relatives and friends, teachers and staff waved celebratory signs and cheered as students and families made their way through the parking lot for the last time. Car horns replaced applause, and car radios replaced “Pomp and Circumstance” as the final tribute to the Class of 2020.