HARRISBURG – Ownly Williams said he has seen firsthand the effects of poverty on those he helps serve.
Williams, pastor for the Harvest Deliverance Center on Vine Street in Harrisburg, has talked to many area residents who greatly need the goods a food pantry can provide.
"We've had folks who have eaten dog food to get by," Williams said Wednesday morning. "When IGA was closing, the man who owned it called and asked if we could use about 60 gallons of milk. We had a man come in the next day, and I asked if he had a freezer so he could take an extra gallon and freeze it. He said, 'You mean I get two gallons of milk instead of just one? I haven't had milk for over a year.' He was very excited. Between his medicine bill and other bills, he was barely getting by."
Stories like those are what Ameren Illinois wants to prevent.
On Wednesday, representatives from Ameren gathered at Harvest Deliverance Center to donated $2,500 to to the food pantry. Kevin Young, superintendent of electric operations, Tina Gibbs, community relations coordinator, and Kelly Hendrickson, Ameren spokeswoman, presented the check to Williams.
Williams said he and food pantry staff greatly appreciated the donation.
"This is more than enough to pay for a whole load of food," Williams said.
Each Wednesday, Harvest Deliverance Center gives food to between 80 and 140 people on average, Williams said.
"That's not counting the ones we feed a hot meal to on Friday," he said.
Gibbs said she and others who worked for Ameren had seen reports about the food pantry needing donations.
"We actually saw a news clip about needing donations, and thought 'We've got to help,'" Gibbs said.
"It's just in time," Williams said, smiling.