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Grace Community Center looking to restock its shelves

By Staff | Mar 1, 2009

Chris Jackson, director of the Grace Community Center, is putting out a call to the community to help the outreach center meet a goal of filling food bank shelves for a Saturday, March 21, deadline.
“We had two prayers in February,” he said. “One was to fill up our shelves and the other to empty them on what we call ‘Distribution Day’ and those prayers were answered. On Saturday, Feb. 21, our last Distribution Day, we doubled our previous distribution, giving away more than 2,800 pounds of food to 220 guests.”
Now the shelves are bare, but he foresees the same need for this month — and maybe more.
“The needs actually continue to increase due to this economy,” he said.

The center is located at 4151 Hancock Bridge Parkway, just west of Orange Grove Boulevard, in the former Winn-Dixie Store location. It’s a huge building, that houses the food pantry, a thrift store and more.
“We’ve developed about half of the 56,000-square-foot building, mostly from donations from our congregation,” he said.
The center is an outreach partner of Grace Church, also located on Hancock Bridge Parkway. The facility opened in November 2008.
“We’ve done three food distributions since opening,” Jackson said. “We also gave away more than 500 articles of clothing from our thrift shop.”
Donations of canned and non-perishable food items are welcome, and can be dropped at the center. Drop-offs can be made through the Thrift Shop during its regular business hours, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Thrift Shop is doing well at the center. It’s the biggest area shop, according to Jackson. There are household items, clothes and more.
“We’ve priced the clothing very affordable, everything is $1 a piece,” he said.
If you are looking for discount Easter items, there are many there now.
The center is doing many projects.
“We offer free GED training in partnership with the Lee County School District, we offer free parenting classes in partnership with the Children’s Advocacy Center and we offer some regular sports programs,” Jackson said. “On our next Distribution Day, we’ll also be doing some free health screenings in partnership with Family Health Centers.”
Part of the development of the space has been a multi-purpose room.
“It’s one of the largest rooms available in Lee County for rental, with almost 13,000 square feet and seating for 600,” he said, adding that the room is being rented for a variety of events. “For example, Ida Baker (High School) will be holding its prom here, and we’ve also had a craft show, a county-wide middle school dance and wedding receptions.”
He said the space is big, and chairs can fold up to make more room.
“We could even have a family fun day, with kids roller skating in here.”
For information, call the center at 574-7161.