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When April Baker was a struggling single mother relying on government assistance and help from the community to make ends meet, she made a promise to God. If He would meet her needs, she would make it her life’s work to pay it forward by taking care of others who were barely getting by.
“Being a single parent, not being able to afford rent in the place you stay. You have to have yard sales — you sell almost everything you’ve got,” Baker said. “I truly know what it feels like to struggle, so I want to dedicate the rest of my life because God gave this for me to do.
“I don’t have things I can brag about, but I can brag on God. I’m not going hungry, my bills are paid, and I’m making it. And my kids are now in college, making it on their own.”
Baker says the food pantry she founded in 2012, A Touch of the Father’s Love, is an all-volunteer effort of people who know what it’s like to not have enough.
“It’s so rewarding to know that we can help our senior citizens who can’t work anymore, and those who are single parents that are trying so hard, but they just can’t make that dollar stretch enough. After you pay for school clothes and after you try to get a few groceries, you need a little help. And that’s why we’re here.”
The food pantry, previously located in a building donated by a farmer in the Battleboro community, is now housed in a 28,000 square-foot former grocery store in Spring Hope. Baker said she did not understand the more than 30-mile move or need for such a large space at the time, but after a week in operation, the reason is now clear.
“I thought we had a big parking lot, but we really don’t, because it was packed full of cars at 9 o’clock. We were running ragged,” Baker said. “I didn’t understand why Spring Hope. Why are we so far away from where we were? But God said, ‘I’m answering the prayers of the people.’ People here have been praying for something more, and He’s answered it. He sent us, and that is so cool.”
The people who come are in need of more than physical nourishment — many also need encouragement, fellowship and prayer, Baker said. The pantry, she said, is a one-stop shop for it all.
“This place impacts people’s lives. We pray for people when they ask for prayer. We’ve seen people healed so many times of so many different things. Incredible stories of healings,” Baker said. “And it’s been so amazing when those people give back.
“They need this food. You can see they do. There are friendly people, but you can see a hunger for a move of God from these people. I’ve seen it and heard it from so many. They just want to see a move of God.”
Baker said local response to the pantry has been so great that the facility is in need of financial assistance and more volunteers.
“We’d like other people to join us. There are so many people out there, they sit on a church pew and they’re going, ‘I want to do more.’ And they don’t know what to do. They don’t know where to do it. This is where. If you have a heart of compassion, if you want to help people, this is a great place for you,” Baker said.
“It’s about helping our neighbors. We’re here for one another.”
A Touch of the Father’s Love is partnered with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. In addition to working with clients by appointment to set them up with monthly U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved food boxes, the pantry also has twice weekly walk-up food distributions from 8:30-10 a.m. on Wednesdays and 8:30-11 a.m. Saturdays.
The pantry is located at 530 E. Nash St. in Spring Hope. For information or to volunteer, contact April Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-377-2209, or visit www.atouchofthefatherslove.org.