VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- The food pantry at Coastal Community Church ran low on food -- shelves and coolers that were normally full were barren and void of certain items. On Thursday, the volunteers pleaded to the community for help in order to help the community it serves.
Then, on Friday, the pantry's pleas were answered during the pantry's drive-through donation drop off -- an idea the pantry had to help increase its food supply. Gabrielle Verrill was one of the donors as she drove her car along the curb next to the pantry.
"They have helped me in the past during hard times, so I'm here to help," Verrill said.
Her car was one of several that lined up with bags of food donations. A volunteer went around to the trunk of her car to retrieve the items she donated.
"We're all having a hard time right now with staying at home, and I wanted to do my part," Verrill said.
The pantry said it experienced the shortage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pantry normally helps between 40 to 60 families, but as people were laid off and furloughed, those people turned to the pantry for help with food.
The drive-through started at 6 p.m., but within the first 10 minutes the pantry saw a swath of cars approach. It was something Heather Wooden, a pantry co-coordinator, said surprised her.
"I had no clue it was going to be like this," Wooden said. "I just keep seeing car, after car, after car, after car. I'm blown away. I'm really blown away."
Drivers handed the food to volunteers who wore face masks and gloves. Some volunteers, as was the case with Verrill, would go around to the trunk of the donor's car, retrieve the items and load the food onto a cart.
The volunteer would take the food to a large room just past the pantry entrance. The volunteers sorted through the bags and boxes of food. The food consisted pastas, grains, bread and canned vegetables, among other items.
"I am beyond optimistic. There's not a doubt in my mind that our little pantry is going to be just fine," Wooden said. "We're going to meet our need and more; it's amazing."
The church will have another drive-through donation drop off for those who missed Friday's event.