BRAZORIA — After Loretha Edison couldn’t do her regular canned food drive because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to replace aluminum with plastic.

“We’re getting some basic data from the residents then giving them two gift cards to Walmart and H-E-B,” the Greater Mount Zion Education and Development Center board member said. “We’re being servants and the hands of Jesus and doing what we’re supposed to do.”

Before March, the organization would give out bags of groceries twice a month at Greater Mount Zion church, she said.

“The pandemic started in March so we couldn’t do our last food drive that Thursday,” Edison said. “I called a bunch of stores but you cannot buy in bulk anywhere anymore, so I said we’ll do gift cards.”

Dozens of people lined up to receive the gift cards.

“We had about 45 people in line in 15 minutes and people were lining up early,” Edison said. “When they started backing into the road, we had to line them up around the church.”

Greater Mount Zion Pastor Roland Hendricks hopes the food drive can assist families with children.

“What we’re hearing is there are so many people with so many needs for food, especially with kids at home now,” he said. “This is meant to help out those families.”

The organization gave out $2000 in gift cards Thursday.

“The West Columbia H-E-B gave us some cards free but we paid for most of them, same with Walmart,” Edison said. “We normally buy food from these stores for the drive, so we wanted to keep our money local.”

Although the pandemic has had economic consequences on low-income families, many are still not recovered from Hurricane Harvey, Hendricks said.

“We have seen issues from Hurricane Harvey still here now,” he said. “The food drive is helping people and blessing the community.”

Although the food distribution is the organization’s main focus, they also provide other services for the community.

“We do a scholarship event for our high school kids,” Hendricks said. “The food distribution is just one component of our organization. We do Social Security seminars and a big dream camp every year.”

Ethel Wiley of Sweeny has been helped by the organization’s charity.

“I think the food drive is great,” Wiley said. “It helps out a lot. People don’t realize how far a little goes until they are in that situation. They have helped me when I was in need.”

The GMZ Education and Development Center is a nonprofit organization that provides educational opportunities and food distribution to southern Brazoria County.

“We just hope that, through this, people will see and they’ll donate to our (nonprofit) because it is a good organizations and we fill a need in this rural area,” Edison said. “We don’t want people to have to drive all the way to Angleton to get groceries they can get some from us and support the community.”

Addison Howell is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0148.

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