The Christian Care Center’s Benevolence Centeris the largest food pantry in Lake County serving an average of over 2150 individuals each month, giving over 22,000 pounds of food each week to those in need in Lake County. This program is designed to supply families with five days’ worth of food and eight articles of clothing per family member each month along with other household items free of charge.
The Benevolence Ministry began as a clothes closet at First Baptist Church of Leesburg in the early 1980’s. People would donate clothes to the less fortunate and others would volunteer to pass them out. When the old Rescue Mission started receiving food donations, they moved the clothes closet to the Rescue Mission and began providing food aid along with clothing. In 1991, the ministry moved to its present location on 13th street which once was a historic train depot.
In 2003 the Center entered into an alliance with Second Harvest Food Bank as a partner agency allowing for substantial growth in the number of families and people served. Besides the individuals served each month, the Benevolence Center serves the Christian Care Center’s residential facilities with over 90,000 meals each year as well as Lake County residents in need, and supports community partners who serve veterans, the elderly, children and at-risk individuals.
One of the secrets to this ministries success is the strong leadership of the ministries director, Lee Evans who has served at First Baptist Leesburg for 34 years. Lee and his wife Gail started the Christian Care Center’s Children’s shelter in 1985 and served as Directors for over 10 years. Lee moved into his current Director position for the Benevolence Center in 2010. His goal for this ministry is to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the people at-risk in the Lake County area.
The other essential component for this ministry is the tireless dedication of the Center’s volunteers. An average of 18 volunteers are needed every single session that the Benevolence Ministry opens its doors. Volunteers give from their heart and do everything including unloading donations, stocking shelves, refrigerators and freezers, sort, clean and prepare clothing and household items for distribution, as well as selecting, packaging and distributing five days’ worth of food for each family. When you walk into this center full of volunteers you are overwhelmed by the feeling of love and compassion from each volunteer. This is more than a volunteer position, it is a mission.