MANNA – the Free Lunch Program in Moore County started in September 2005. In seven years, it grew to seven hospitality sites serving lunches Tuesday through Friday with an average of five hundred lunches each week. The seven sites were: Aberdeen, Carthage, Jackson Hamlet, Southern Pines, Taylor town, Vass and West Southern Pines. Ever since MANNA was inaugurated, Robbins in North Moore County was always seen as the needed eighth site. Three attempts were made to set up Robbins as a site, but MANNA could not arrange for preparation teams and a suitable serving place.
In August 2012, the economic downturn severely impacted MANNA and plans were made to cut costs and reduce service. One concept presented was having teams prepare lunches for two sites and have one person deliver to each site. This step was adverted to an eighth year old home schooled girl. In September 2007, she asked how MANNA acquired the funds needed to prepare the lunches each week. When she was given the details, she said this: “I don’t understand all that but I am glad that I was able to give the gift of MANNA to people today.” Her gift of MANNA statement led to a fund raising campaign called the Gift of MANNA. People were asked to donate money in some one’s name and lunches would be dedicated in their honor. The campaign saved MANNA and allowed it to begin its eighth year in October 2012.
MANNA gives out lunches. It also provides Panera Bread. The Pet Responsibility program that supports humane treatment of pets uses the MANNA sites to provide information and promote animal welfare. In March 2013, one of the Pet Responsibility leaders was giving lectures in one of the Robbins schools. She was touched by the great poverty in Robbins. She asked if MANNA could spare some Panera Bread for the Robbins families. She began bringing the bread every Thursday. She was asked to inquire if a lunch hospitality site could be found in Robbins. If one could be found, the cost cutting idea of having a team prepare the lunches for two sites and one person deliver them would be the model used.
In just a few weeks, the Heavenly Treasures Clothing Store operated by Robbins Area Christian Ministries was found to be an ideal site. Since March 2013, the Thursday Aberdeen Preparation teams prepare lunches for the Aberdeen and Robbins sites. So in its eighth year, MANNA has found its eighth site in Northern Moore County. MANNA is thankful to an eighth year old girl gave us the inspiration for the Gift of MANNA fund raising idea and a lady with compassion for God’s most innocent creatures and the families in Robbins.
Please contact John Roberts, Executive Director of MANNA if you would like to help MANNA keep serving in Robbins. He can be reached at (910) 315-1150, firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to him at MANNA!, P.O. Box 1081, Southern Pines, NC, 28388.
MANNA! Executive Director, John Roberts in the News
Note: the following article appeared in the The Pilot on Fri. Oct. 19, 2012.
Contact author, Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or email@example.com.
[MANNA! Executive Director,] John Roberts owes his life to a tomahawk.
The head of the nonprofit group MANNA! was diagnosed by doctors in 2011 with two clogged heart arteries when he sought medical care after he felt bad after throwing tomahawks one day.
"I could throw four or five, and then I got real winded," Roberts said.
After he explained what led him to seek medical care, a doctor ordered a heart catheterization which discovered the blockages.
Now, more than a year after successful triple bypass surgery, Roberts, 73, says he throws regularly and can now easily make dozens of throws without getting winded.
"I typically throw four or five days a week, and throw it 25 to 30 times. I can throw them and hit the target from between 20 and 30 feet," he said.
The renewed energy is a good thing because when Roberts isn't throwing tomahawks, he is devoting his time to Moore Alliance Nourishing Neighbors, Amen!, or MANNA!, a nonprofit ecumenical and community effort to feed the hungry of Moore County. The group provides prepared meals, which are taken to feeding sites in areas of need.
MANNA! has been serving free lunches here since September 2005 and, to date, has provided more than 125,000 lunches. The group serves more than 525 people free lunches every week. Meals are served at seven sites, Tuesday through Friday.
Roberts credited the more than 400 volunteers who prepare meals, work at the serving sites and who bag and distribute bread for helping keep the organization running efficiently during the time he was sidelined following heart surgery.
"During my three months at home, the MANNA! community took care of me and the organization," Roberts said.
Twelve churches and 15 other community groups work in concert with MANNA!.
Roberts, who has been the director of MANNA! since 2006, got interested in tomahawks when he watched the movie "The Patriot," starring Mel Gibson.
Shortly after watching the movie, Roberts purchased a tomahawk online, got a tree stump from a local lumberyard as a target, and began throwing tomahawks in his yard.
"Before I saw the movie, I had no interest in tomahawks," Roberts said. "But then I saw it and it just got the better of me."
Competition tomahawks have a wooden handle, a sharp, thin blade, and are balanced for throwing. They weigh about two pounds and come in smaller weights and sizes for children and women.
Roberts said the sport is popular in Tennessee, Montana and other Western states.
With heart troubles behind him, a healthier Roberts still has a love of throwing tomahawks. He now has six in all, including two competition tomahawks. He also has two throwing knives.
Roberts said part of the appeal of throwing tomahawks is that it is simple to learn to do.
"I picked up how to throw them by watching YouTube videos," he said.
He occasionally gives tomahawk-throwing demonstrations to local groups. He is also seeking other area residents who may be interested in throwing tomahawks.
"For me it's a hobby," Roberts said. "It is something that is simple, fun and makes you feel good."
MANNA!-In-Motion Races Coming June 1, 2013
The June 2, 2012 MANNA!-in-Motion race, held at Sandhills Community College, was a huge success again this year. We had a total of 390 runners and raised $14,800 which will help support hunger relief for hundreds of people in this area who are in need.
The down economy has had an impact far and wide, and in addition to the many individuals and families who are in need of support, MANNA! is also in struggling to continue to provide services to the needy. One way that you can support us is by participating in our 2013 MANNA!-in-Motion Race which is coming just around the corner on Saturday, June 1, 2013. We are looking for both runner and sponsors. Sponsorship information & application as well as a registration form for runners can be found by clicking the links below.
Below is an article that appeared in The Pilot on June 6, 2012:
Race Series Supports MANNA By Michael Warren
Runners from Moore County and beyond gathered at Sandhills Community College last Saturday to support those less fortunate. Their way of giving back? By entering either the 5K or 10K races for MANNA! in Motion.
This year’s race, which was the eighth running of MANNA! in Motion, saw a turnout of 348 runners.
The 5K race had 261 entrants, while 87 people ran the 10K race. With the proceeds of the race going to MANNA!, the charity benefited from the large turnout.
“This is one of two fundraisers we do all year,” MANNA! president Dawn Wilson said, “We raise about a quarter of our overall funds with this race. We’re very grateful to everyone who participated and all of our sponsors.”
MANNA!, which stands for Moore Alliance Nourishing Neighbors, Amen!, is a non-profit free lunch program that has been operating since 2005. Their primary objective is to feed the hungry in the Moore County area.
According to their website, MANNA! provides more than 550 free lunches every week.
The runners benefited from the cool weather and sunshine as they took to the course that morning. The course is made up of trails, starting at Sandhills Community College and then circling around Reservoir Park before returning to the college.
In the 5K race, Michael Moore was the first to finish, crossing the line in 17:35. He was followed by second-place finisher Brandon Dibianco, 17:46, and third-place finisher Sidney Carrier, 19:25.
The overall female winner was Heather Weeks, crossing the finish with a time of 20:24. Following Weeks in second was Abby Verchick, 22:57, and Christiana Mclean, 23:42, in third.
“I’ve run this trail many times, so I knew what to expect,” Moore said, “I like it, it’s nice.”
Moore is no stranger to the Sandhills Race Series, which MANNA! in Motion is a part of.
“I try to make every race that I can and make sure that other outside races don’t conflict,” Moore said. “I think I only missed one this year.”
In the 10K race, Peter Deucher took first place overall, leading the pack with a time of 38:41. Close behind Deucher was Ira Gallagher, 39:06, in second, and Christopher Johnson, 39:32, in third.
On the women’s side, Tana Kornachuk won with a time of 40:00. Rounding out the top three for the women were runner-up Deb Ryan, 43:10, and third place Savannah Merritt, 46:22.
MANNA! in Motion was the final race in the spring 2012 series for the Sandhills Race Series.
The spring series champions will be announced at the Sandhills Race Series Awards Social on July 12 at the Downtown Park in Southern Pines.
The next local race will be the Patriot 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run on July 4 at Pinecrest High School. The race will benefit Operation One Voice and the Pinecrest cross country team.
The next fundraiser for MANNA! will be the MANNA!-on-the-links golf tournament. The tournament will be held on Oct. 15 at the National Golf Club.
Local Youth Get Involved in MANNA!
MANNA! has been blessed by the participation of young people last summer! The Camp Agape Day Camp at Our Saviour Lutheran Church prepared lunch for our serving site at Trinity AME Church in Southern Pines. This team also visited the serving site and enjoyed interacting with those who came to eat! Former MANNA! President Don Barcus spoke to the participants at Camp Agape and was overwhelmed by their attention and compassion toward helping those who are hungry. One little girl said, "When you were talking, I was thinking that I wish I had my wallet because I would give all my money to feed hungry people." Another young man said, "I am going to ask my dad to give MANNA! $200 to help feed the hungry." If we all felt as strongly as those young people, everyone would be fed!
Jacob Chrisco attended Camp Agape and wrote this article about his MANNA! experience:
During Agape Day Camp this summer I had to opportunity to work with MANNA! Karenna, Tripp, Cole, Gunnar, Rosalind, Taylor, Devin, our counselor from Agape, Sara B. and I began our day at the OSLC kitchen. There we fixed a bag lunch for 80 people. We took the lunches over to AME Zion Church to serve them. When we got there, one of the men that was there to eat was playing the piano. He played "Amazing Grace," "Lean on Me" and some other songs and we sang along with him. All of the volunteers working with us were very nice. We met a lot of people that day and visited with them while they ate. Some told us their stories and how they missed their families. It was sad to see people who might not get anything else to eat that day or maybe hadn’t eaten in a few days. I realize how lucky I am to have a home and food to eat every day.
Young people from O’Neal Middle School will join MANNA! as a regular prep team in September. In the past we have also had home-schooled young people prepare lunches. Feel free to bring young people to prepare lunch anytime. In MANNA!’s six years of existence, we only have had to use the time-out chair once, and that was for a grandmother!