MOUNT PLEASANT — An 18-year pre-Thanksgiving tradition among local churches — Feeding the Multitude — spread across the Cooper River for the first time Saturday.
The East Cooper area hosted one of the four events at the Farmers Market facility near Moultrie Middle School. Similar to the ones in downtown Charleston, Johns Island and West Ashley, organizers vow that the event is here to stay.
Robin Quick of Christ (Episcopal) Church in Mount Pleasant led the effort, recalling that she first heard about the ecumenical effort Feeding the Multitude two years ago. Last year, she and other members of Christ Church volunteered at the one in West Ashley, with plans to start one in Mount Pleasant this year.
“Mount Pleasant has a reputation of not needing this help, but there is hunger in this community too,” said Quick. “It’s important for us not only to feed people, but also to be together as a community and to serve.”
Rev. Levi Wright, pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Wando, attended Saturday’s event and knows first-hand that there are hungry east of the Cooper. He coordinates efforts to feed people at 16 churches along the Clements Ferry Road corridor.
The East Cooper effort, joined by Hibben United Methodist Church members, didn’t draw the thousands that the other three routinely draw, but organizers wanted to start small and know that the event will grow in coming years, in the number of people attending and the churches participating.
Like the churches in other areas, notice of the event tends to be spread word-of-mouth.
Besides signs on Coleman Boulevard with arrows pointing to “Free Food,” Christ Church and Hibben volunteers spread the word via members, East Cooper Meals on Wheels, East Cooper Community Outreach and at Hibben’s monthly free lunch, called “The Table,” the next of which begins at 11 a.m. on Dec. 15 at the Coleman Boulevard church.
Among the grateful Saturday was Anthony Jamerson, who along with his wife, Vonnie, serves as a foster parent or mentor to 15 children. He was so overwhelmed with joy that at one point he raised his arms and face to the sky and started crying.
“My wife and I often fall behind on our bills because we have to buy food to feed hungry children, and there are so many hungry children out there,” said Jamerson, who works at the Naval Weapons Station and heard about Saturday’s event from co-worker and Hibben member Kent Selby.
“Sometimes I don’t have enough to feed all the kids who come to us for help.”
The first Feeding the Multitude was started by Rev. Dallas Wilson of St. Johns Chapel on Hanover Street in Charleston’s East Side community in 1994.
Other events Saturday were held at Mall Park on Columbus Street, Forest Park off of Playground Road in West Ashley and Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Johns Island.