The Valdosta Daily Times
For 15 years, the Rev. J.D. Martin has spent Christmas Eve ensuring that no one in the community will go without for the holiday.
Martin, his wife Ethel, and 300 volunteers began cooking and preparing early Sunday to feed 3,000 for Christmas, along with providing clothes and toys for thousands as well.
Although the numbers served speak volumes, Martin speaks softly, giving praise to his helpers and to God.
“This is the only time in South Georgia when you’ll see all walks of faith come together for a day,” said Martin. “We have over 50 churches represented here today.”
The message Martin hopes to spread is one of love and acceptance. He has brought 125 souls to Christ in 15 years, and every year is an opportunity to save more. Regardless of their faith or their situation, however, Martin says he will help anyone, anytime. All they have to do is ask.
“If you are feeling stressed, you don’t have to feel like there’s no hope. Even after today, if your back is against the wall, there’s no need to take your anger out on others. You are not alone. Call me at (229) 292-8979,” Martin said.
Stressing the Feed the Needy event as a ministry not only saves and feed souls, but brings community members together as one.
“My hat goes off to all these volunteers. We have folks who drive up here from Florida every year just to help,” Martin said.
Gary Blevins and his crew drive up from Lake City, Fla., each year to cook for the event. Blevins said they set up Sunday morning around 11 a.m. and have been thawing and cooking chicken ever since, which at the time of the interview had been more than 24 hours. With little sleep, even in a cold breeze, Blevins couldn’t have been happier about helping out.
“Our team is Munchee’s Smokehouse, and we are a competitive grill team, but we bring out smokers and cookers up here every year to help out,” said Blevins.
“We’ve cooked 3,000 chickens, plus sausage, beans, corn, whatever they’ve asked us to do. It’s a great way to spend Christmas Eve and share fellowship.”
Teams from several churches, including Crosspointe, also had smokers and cookers set up to help out through the night and early morning. Much of the food is donated through America’s Second Harvest, but others contribute as well.
Feeding thousands each year is a tremendous undertaking, and Martin said it takes a village to donate the food and supplies, the church vans and trucks delivering meals, volunteers to sort the clothes and toys that are donated, and ensure that no one goes away empty-handed.
The small building off Savannah Avenue is just temporary until the church can find a permanent location, but was a beehive of busy activity Monday with volunteers loading up grocery bags of hot food and pantry staples to distribute in numerous neighborhoods around Valdosta, and others sorting bags of clothing and toys to give away.
Isaiah 58:10 says, “If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness.”
Pastor J.D. Martin and his volunteers were beacons of light on this Christmas Day to thousands of needy individuals.
Feed the Needy: 15 years of giving
Lives Given to Christ: 125
People prayed for: 46,000