Caring for the community: Manteo High School students partner with Outer Banks Presbyterian Church to tackle food insecurity – The Coastland Times

Caring for the Community: Students at Manteo High School work with the Outer Banks Presbyterian Church to fight food insecurity

Published October 23, 2022 1:24 pm

As you drive through Kill Devil Hills on US 158, passers-by might notice something different about the Outer Banks Presbyterian Church (OBPC), just off the highway to the east. Now, in front of the church entrance, there is a mounted box with groceries, toiletries and other necessities. This pantry came to life and inspired Manteo High School student Elisabeth Writtenberry, who cares deeply about the needs of her community.

The Writenberrys relocated to the Outer Banks from Virginia in 2010 and immediately found welcome arms at OBPC. Hollie Writenberry, Elizabeth’s mother, is director of youth, children and family ministry at OBPC and said her daughter “has such a big heart for people” that prompted her to take action within her church community to help those in need in Dare County to support .

“She’s very committed to social justice,” Hollie noted, “and helping those in need and making sure their needs are met. That has always been close to her heart.”

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Elisabeth has served on the Beach Food Pantry’s Youth Advisory Council, volunteered with the Souper Bowl of Caring movement and even helped Room in the Inn raise funds for those in need of shelter through a school essay she submitted and won last year’s runner-up. “Being involved in these activities has made her increasingly concerned about how we are reaching people,” Hollie said.

Through OBPC and her work with various organizations, Elisabeth has learned how the world is suffering and what steps have been taken to end hunger in the country. The concept that stood out the most was the concept of a pantry box or “blessing box”.

The young humanitarian said: “I was at a youth conference this summer and they talked a lot about how much our world is suffering and how it is up to us to really do God’s work to make a difference and make this world a better place . This got me thinking about what I should do and I decided to put a blessing box in our church.” After telling her pastor at OBPC, Rev. Dr. Joseph Moore, having described her vision, Elisabeth spoke to the witness and outreach committees as well as the construction and site crews about the project.

The high school freshman teamed up with Charles (“Winkey”) Roberts and Jerry Moore from the building and grounds crew and came up with a plan together. “We talked about the measurements and where to put it in the church, and then they went straight to work on it,” she explained. Hollie added: “She took her own money to get the supplies and fill the box initially. She made a flyer for the church and joined the Testimonies and Public Affairs Committee to oversee the project.”

After the supply box was built and placed in its final location, Elizabeth invited her congregation to help fill the box. “I got up in church on Sunday and talked about the box. I wanted the whole church to get involved. It’s up to us to keep the crate stocked for anyone who needs it.”

Hollie shared that her daughter made a slide show of food insecurity statistics as she reached out to the church and why it would fill a need in the Outer Banks community. Elisabeth noted that it would allow people to donate what they could locally, without a set date and time of collection. She has made it a point to faithfully walk to the box almost every day since its inception, keeping data records and making sure the box is stocked with essentials. “Take what you need, leave what you can, but above all be blessed by God” is the motto of this blessing box.

“This church has been a home for me,” Elisabeth said, “they have always taken care of me and supported me and my family.” As of now, the blessing box is her main focus, but she doesn’t mind doing more projects with the church in the future take over. Elisabeth plans to study music with a focus on music. She hopes to become an elementary school music teacher and possibly get her master’s degree in seminary.

The pantry is located at Outer Banks Presbyterian Church, 907 S. Croatan Highway in Kill Devil Hills, mile marker 8.5 on the bypass.

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