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Extra donations help Dumfries food pantry reopen early

Sunday - 10/23/2011, 9:43pm  ET

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The Action in Community Through Service food pantry in Dumfries, Va. forced to close last week, but has reoepened a week earlier than planned thanks to extra donations that came in. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

DUMFRIES, Va. - A food pantry that was forced to close down last week will be reopening a week earlier than planned thanks to a groundswell of support from the community.

The Action in Community Through Service (ACTS) food pantry in Dumfries will be reopening on Tuesday. It closed down last week because it ran out of food, and announced it would not reopen until Nov. 1.

ACTS board member Lawrence Pemberton says the need for food shot up nearly 40 percent in the last six months.

"I've been on the board for more than 20 years and I've never seen our shelves empty," he says.

The pantry feeds 4,000 people each month says ACTS emergency program director Rebekah McGee. That's 70,000 pounds of food monthly.

"I'm overwhelmed by the response from the community," says McGree. "It's been incredible."

So many donations came in the organization had to bring in a trailer to store the food.

McGee says the help has come not only from Prince William County but other counties, and even businesses, organizations and individuals outside of the state.

It's been an emotional time says McGee, citing the fact that the pantry had no alternative but to shutdown.

"It was heartbreaking because families left in tears because they could not get groceries from us," says McGee.

McGee says their first day open will be busy, but she sees that as a good thing.

When she was struggling with having to close the pantry she saw a church sign that read, "God turns obstacles into opportunities."

McGee says this event is a great educational experience for the public to realize that people are hungry 365 days a year and not just around the holidays.

"We need donations to keep coming to stay open."

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)