Photo Credit: 
Photo provided by Laura Campbell
Soon-to-be senior at Fletcher High School Caleb Campbell stands with the nine boxes of canned goods donated at the Fletcher Dodgeball Tournament this year.
Soon-to-be senior at Fletcher High School Caleb Campbell stands with the nine boxes of canned goods donated at the Fletcher Dodgeball Tournament this year.

The Elgin, Fletcher and Sterling communities have always thrived by helping each other out in times of need, and 2021 is no different.

The area has several resources available, including food pantries. Although donations are always needed, volunteers are the backbone of this effort. Most go unnoticed. Some are retired and work full-time jobs and can only help after hours, but all are appreciated and needed. Organizations could not operate without individuals willing to help. That help comes in many forms, as illustrated by the efforts of one unconventional volunteer who rallied his fellow students at Fletcher High School to help.

Caleb Campbell does not fit the typical mold of a food pantry volunteer. He is only 17. But his brother Daniel’s recent departure to college left big shoes to fill. Tennis shoes, that is. What Daniel started as a community service project six years ago has become the Annual Fletcher High School Dodgeball Tournament. When Daniel graduated, Caleb naturally took the reins running the tournament.

A competition to feed others

Fletcher’s student body has come to look forward to the Annual Dodgeball Tournament. A source of friendly competition, the fundraiser has brought aid to the needy in our community. This year alone, students raised over $400 and collected nine boxes of food for the Fletcher Food Pantry. Participants paid $5 and onlookers donated a can of food or paid $1 to enter the Dodgeball Tournament. This year’s tournament was the most successful on the books, raising more than ever. But Fletcher is not the only food pantry in our area. Other resources include food pantries in Elgin and Sterling.

Fletcher Food Pantry

The Fletcher Food Pantry operates out of Fletcher Town Hall. The town plans to move to a new building in the near future. The pantry is typically open the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month but is temporarily open by appointment only due to concerns over transmission of COVID-19. The food pantry works with the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank and corporate donors to provide various types of food, including fresh produce and eggs. The public can drop donations off at Fletcher Town Hall during regular business hours. Items in high demand are paper products, feminine hygiene products, shampoo and toothpaste. For more information, contact Fletcher Town Hall at (580) 549-6550.

Elgin Blessing Box

Most residents know about the Elgin Blessing Box, and many donate or benefit from it. But lately, the blessing box has seen a quick turnaround of food. Whether it is the summer break and children being home or people being out of work, the need is still the same. Blessing box volunteer Jenny Giles, who also owns Native Smoke BBQ says popular items include peanut butter, jelly, macaroni and cheese, cereals and canned food items. These items are easy to fix and are always needed. However, any non-perishable food item is accepted. The concept is simple: neighbors blessing neighbors. The public can drop off non-perishable food items anytime at the blessing box and those in need can get what they need anytime as well.

According to Facebook, there is a new option for residents. It is called Beyond the Blessing Box. On the west side of the pantry there is a flyer with information and a phone number. This ministry helps those who may need more assistance than the blessing box provides. The blessing box is hard to miss. It is operated out of a bright red pantry in front of Elgin City Hall at 8183 state Highway 17 in Elgin.

Sterling Blessing Box

Sterling also has a blessing box in front of the Sterling Police Department. The Sterling Blessing Box is like the Elgin Blessing Box, in that it contains dry and canned goods. Residents can donate food anytime. Likewise, individuals can take items whenever they are in need.

Elgin Food Pantry

The Elgin Community Food Pantry is housed in Elgin United Methodist Church, at 608 G Street in Elgin. It operates Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information on donating food or receiving assistance, contact the church at (580) 492-4305.

One thing all the resources have in common is the need for canned goods and cereals. Each of these resources remain open due to the generosity of its community. Volunteers hope their communities will continue to help these services survive throughout the summer.