Friendly competition supports food program


Long Memorial United Methodist Church just completed a month-long, church-wide food drive to support BackPack Pals, a program to help reduce food insecurity among the children of Person County.

The food drive was set up as a competition between two teams, Byerly’s Backpacks, named for Austen Byerly, Long Memorial’s summer student pastor intern, and Priestaf’s Pals, named for Pastor Ed Priestaf.

In the competition, church members, according to their birth dates, would contribute food items to their teams. Each week Cheryl Allen and Cornelia Loftis, the two Long Memorial members in charge of the campaign, counted the items and, after totaling up the numbers, announced the winning team. A special shout-out goes to the kids of Long Memorial’s vacation Bible school who contributed dozens of juice boxes to the campaign, under the leadership of Pam Day, the church’s youth director. Byerly’s BackPacks won the closely contested event.

While the competition was fun, the reward isn’t in winning the contest. The reward is that children will have good food to eat on weekends during the school year. BackPack Pals serves more than 280 Person County children, a number that has grown from 30 since the program’s inception in 2012 and will likely continue to increase. Food drives such as this go a long way in ensuring we can meet those needs.

Church members encourage everyone interested in supporting BackPack Pals of Person County to hold food drives, drop off food donations at Beulah Baptist Association on Morgan Street, which graciously houses the program, or make cash contributions. Also, one way to help out in particular is to support an individual school. Several churches and other organizations are doing this. Long Memorial supports Stories Creek School by helping pack and deliver the packs. For more information about the program, email


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