Volunteer workers gather at the Ministry of Hope Through the Lord Jesus Christ of Lithia to help distribute food and goods to locals.

By Gwen Rollings

Janeen Long’s journey of helping people began over six decades ago as a young girl in her father’s store in Ohio.

She said, “When I was 9 years old, my father began bringing me to his grocery store where I learned it is more blessed to give than receive. I sometimes helped my father carry food to an elderly man, and he never took any money from that man. I believe Jesus had me work in my father’s store so I could run Jesus’ store when I grew up.”

Janeen is running a store for Jesus now as co-director with her husband in the Ministry of Hope Through the Lord Jesus Christ of Lithia. This store is unique in many ways. For decades, Janeen and Wayne Long have invested their lives in ministries providing for those who are destitute and in need. Perhaps the most unique feature of this store…no one has to pay for anything.

Most of the products given come from donations. Individuals bring canned goods and clothes, a local Winn-Dixie contributes daily and small financial gifts from several local churches as well as collaborating with Famous Tate have been invaluable. Unique to most shopkeepers, the Longs have been known to spend their own money buying things for their customers: car batteries and tires, refrigerators and other appliances for families in crises.

About 40 prequalified shoppers experience a unique drive-through service on the second and fourth Fridays of the month beginning at 5:00 p.m. Eight-feet long tables are arranged on the property.

Long added, “Sandy Habershaw prepares boxes of food according to each person/family needs and then they’re placed in their cars.”

Shoppers are offered fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, dairy products, meats, clothes, small and large household goods, appliances and more, depending on availability.

The Ministry of Hope is nonprofit, dependent on its volunteers and the generosity of the community for donations, which are welcomed 24/7.

Long said, “You can’t see the sign from the road, but at the end of a long driveway there is our sign and a building that is always available for donations, including papers for tax purposes.”

Janeen explained, “The blessed part in giving is seeing a little 5-year-old girl’s eyes light up when she hears her family received milk that day.”

For information about donating to the Ministry of Hope Through the Lord Jesus Christ, call 685-5047.