Wendy Taylor helps the hungry with Barrels of Love in Decatur
Love comes in all shapes and sizes. Wendy Taylor found a way to deliver love by the barrel-full.
Taylor started Barrels of Love six years ago as an emergency food and shelter program for the needy in Decatur. Taylor was discussing with Gayle Monk how Monk’s pantry at the Committee on Church Cooperation nonprofit would be empty by February. They tried to figure out how to keep their shelves stocked all year.
“I went back to my management team at my place of business and said we needed to do something,” Taylor said. “We discovered we have industries up and down the river but no events that incorporate everyone together. What a great thing it would be to have an industry-wide food drive.”
Taylor contacted a few of the industries, and Barrels of Love was born.
“What we did was put together a nonperishable food drive,” Taylor said. “We use these recycled containers, we put them out into the community and they are brought back filled with food. It’s really a wonderful thing. It kicks off this year on Valentine’s Day at Ingalls Harbor from 8 to 11 in the morning. You come and pick up your barrel, and on March 2, all of that food gets sorted and goes back into the community.”
“When we started six years ago, we had about 50 companies and about 24,000 nonperishable food items,” Taylor said. “Last year we had over 63,000 nonperishable items with 100 different business and companies. It’s grown and has become a beautiful thing.”
The demand is so great that at Committee on Church Cooperation, the food is normally distributed the day it arrives. Any donation makes a big difference.
“When you’re helping over 100 families a week, the food goes out of here quickly,” Monk said. “Our shelves don’t start emptying until about October, but last year they started emptying around August. We were struggling to keep food on the shelves.”
Barrels of Love continues to fill in the gap created by the high demand for food in the Decatur area.
“We had a mother come in the other day with a little girl, and she was shaking her mom’s shirt saying ‘Mama, Mama, are they gonna give us food?’ and when you hear stories like that it gets you right here,” Monk said, motioning to her heart. “You can tell when there is a genuine need. When we bring food out to a client and their eyes get wide and they say ‘Is this all for me?’ Just to make a difference in someone’s life is why we’re all here. Everyone here has a heart to serve, you have to have a heart to serve if you work here.”
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(Courtesy of Karim Shamsi-Basha/Alabama News Center)