Wagons of Hope provide safe grocery transportation

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, January 24, 2024

A new non-profit in Suffolk found a unique way of helping those in need. Launched by Suffolk Events and Entertainment, Inc., Wagons of Hope provided carrying carts to assist walking customers in transporting groceries safely. On Thursday, Jan. 18, the organization partnered with East End Baptist Church’s food bank, Solomon’s Porch, during its mini-mart food distribution.

East End Baptist Church and Solomon’s Porch Food Manager Yvonne B. Green discussed the mini-mart process, which is open every Tuesday and Thursday from 3-4 p.m. at 617 E. Washington St.

“They come in, they get three minutes on the floor. You’d be surprised at what they can pick up in three minutes,” Green said. “When they come in, if there are limited items like today, we have soft drinks and water… if there are limited things, we let them know when they come through the door. If there’s no limit, then they go for themselves. We give them a bag of meat on their way out the door.”

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Along with their other programs, such as their Healthy Produce, 60+ Food Program and Emergency Food distributions, Green detailed how she and her team work to bring food to shoppers in need, even working outside in both heat and cold weather. Along with noting how “85 percent of their people” walk as their only way of transportation, Green expressed how thankful she was to the Wagons of Hope members for providing carts at the distribution.

“There could be a mother here with seven children, but she can’t carry but two bags. But with this cart, she can carry seven bags. Because she’s walking,” Green said. “This is an awesome thing … We’ve had church members donate carts. It’s always hard to say who’s going to get them.”

Designed as Suffolk Events and Entertainment’s community-driven initiative, the Wagons of Hope was launched following the observation of Suffolk residents struggling to carry their food bank groceries. Wagons of Hope Member Carlito Barrett talked more about the organization during the distribution.

“What we did was start an organization, non-profit, and what we do is put on events. Like September, we had “Luther ReLives” that came here. We raise money and we donate the baskets to other non-profit churches or whatever we can do to help out,” Barrett said. 

On their hopes of expanding Wagons of Hope and helping the Suffolk community, Barrett expressed how each member has their own angle of assisting the community, noting his passion for veterans.

“I’m a vet. So I like leaning towards the vets a little more than they lean towards something else because I am a vet, so I kind of know what the struggle is. So I say, ‘The next time we have an event, let’s do something for the vets.’ Somebody might say something else,” Barrett said. “So I just like giving back to whatever the situation is.”

Wagons of Hope Member Tony Wilkins also talked about future plans that Wagons of Hope has to help positively impact the community. 

“We have another one coming up, I think this September, but in between that… we’re planning some game nights for families. So we just [keep] on keeping the community together and just giving them something to do.”

Wagons of Hope Member Vernon Powell hopes the younger generation can see them helping others positively.

“I look at this to [help] the younger generation can see now and put down the guns, the violence and everything, and let’s all come together,” Powell said.

For more information on Solomon’s Porch, call 757-539-3324 or go to theeastendbaptistchurch.com