By Josh Troy
Going to the store and buying food was no longer a simple task for many people when the COVID pandemic hit in March 2020, and Pleasant Valley Church Vision Center officials wanted to do something about that. Pleasant Valley Church Vision Center Pastor John Givins, also the city chaplain appointed by Mayor Chuck Espy, started a drive-through food giveaway to help the needy shortly after the pandemic began. Those in need were able to go to a drive-through at Pleasant Valley Church Vision Center every Thursday afternoon and pick up food. While the COVID vaccine is now available for everyone, the drive-through food giveaway still takes place every Thursday.
Evangelist Loretta Bryant, a volunteer with the church, said the food donations are an “outreach blessing from heaven.” People from the Memphis, Tenn., area donate much of the food. Food items include vegetables, sweets, fruits, canned goods, candy, ice cream, meats, and cereal. “It’s a blessing to the people,” Bryant said. “Pastor Givins gets a phone call, and he has a person who picks the food up, delivers it from Memphis, and brings it here to Clarksdale.”
The drive-through usually begins between 3 and 5 p.m. Thursday, but with the long line, anyone coming for food is encouraged to arrive early. “Normally, we have 60 to 100 people come through that line, but we just give it until it’s all gone,” said Bryant, adding 103 people came on March 2nd. The Clarksdale Police Department directs traffic to keep the line moving in an orderly manner. Bryant said the goal was to have even more people come on March 9th.
“We’re excited,” said Bryant before the giveaway on Thursday. “Come out and join us for free food, gift-giving, and blessings. God is blessing every Thursday right here at Pleasant Valley Church in Clarksdale, Miss.” Church volunteer Dr. Dorothy Shaw said the church has a list of people in need and the goal. “That list will be referenced, so we’ll know who’s getting it (the food),” she said.
Shaw said someone from the church brings the food out as the car drives up to the building. “It’s to improve Clarksdale,” she said. “We want to better Clarksdale,” Bryant said. The church is accepting donations so it can continue to help those in need. “He (Givins) had a giveaway two Sundays ago and gave away money, toys, and food. There is a cash app,” Bryant said. “We would love for people to donate to the ministry so we can continue to be a blessing to the City of Clarksdale,” said Givins in agreement. Anyone wishing to donate to Pleasant Valley Church Vision Center may send money to the cash app $Visioncenter or the address Pleasant Valley, 1051 Walnut St, Clarksdale, MS, 38614.