SEBRING — The gloves have come off and the gauntlet has been thrown, Shepherd’s Pantry at Emmanuel United Church of Christ has been given a challenge. Bolton Winpenny heard about the food ministry at the church and admired the way the ministry helped the community.

Bolton said every time someone donated to the pantry (not the church), he would donate $10 in their name to the pantry. The challenge is good until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, March 25.

“I think people want to know where their money is going when they donate it,” Winpenny said. “I know where this is going, it’s helping my neighbors.”

Winpenny is concerned for his fellow man with businesses closing from the coronavirus crisis and people being laid off. So much so, that he called while on vacation in Georgia to share the challenge with his friend Rev. George Miller, pastor of EUCC.

Miller is thrilled with the challenge and hopes to get enough people to donate to cash in on every cent of the $2,000.

“This is a natural personality trait of Bolton’s,” Miller said. “I have known Bolton for years, he uses his resources to create community.”

Miller said he was amazed that people in the community who do not attend church, know about Shepherd’s Pantry and its mission.

“One of the gifts of our pantry is humanity,” Miller said. “We make sure we treat everyone with the utmost humanity. The only things that are different from us and them is the circumstances. We can’t physically touch anyone right now but we can still be the hands and feet of Jesus. We can feed people and reach out to them.”

EUCC Service Minister Steve Wills is currently heading up the pantry. He said the pantry has grown considerably through the years. The pantry opened in April 2014, and fed one family. Last week, the pantry fed over 160 families.

Shepherd’s Pantry is open once a month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the third Monday of the month.

“Shepherd’s Pantry is a wonderful ministry,” Wills said. “We help people and offer them food, fellowship and relaxation. We offer them a drink or snack while they are there.”

Wills explained there was some government paperwork to do, then, there are two ways to get food. Individuals can pick up pre-packaged items with about 18 food and hygiene items or they can go around shopping with a church member to pick out their own items. Wills said the volunteers do everything to preserve the dignity of the people who take part of the pantry.

Mark checks Sheppard’s Pantry/Bolton and mail to 3115 Hope St., Sebring, FL 33875.