The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


February 21, 2014

Concert for a cause: Five bands to play in benefit for Miami food pantry

MIAMI, Okla. — The First Baptist Church of North Miami Food Pantry has a walk-in freezer. It just can't be used. Yet.

While the pantry was able to buy a walk-in freezer, installing it is another project -- one that director Donna Lawrence estimates will cost around $3,000. When fully installed, the freezer will replace several smaller, power-draining units that the pantry uses.

"We're dependent on the church for a stipend," Lawrence said. "Because we're using so many freezers, we're using a lot of electricity from the church."

Volunteer Joe Bourgeois saw the need firsthand and did the only thing he knew to do: Produce and promote a fundraising concert.

"One day (Lawrence) was talking about some of our needs," Bourgeois said. "I was sitting there thinking and seeing dollar signs. And the only way I know to raise dollars is to do a show."

In what is hoped to be a repeating effort, the inaugural Hunger Aid benefit will feature a night of live music, an auction and giveaways. The concert features Joplin band Last Chance Casanova and also includes Geek Theory, Social Sinners, Of Course Not and Rhatigan Brothers.

Funds raised will go toward the pantry's efforts to install the new freezer and will assist with other pantry operations. The freezer will help the pantry keep more of the food it receives for families.

Currently, the pantry donates extra food that doesn't fit in other freezers to other pantries in order to prevent spoilage and ensure a chance for the food to get into the hands of people who need it.

The pantry serves about 100 families a month, Lawrence said.

Organizers hope this is the first of many Hunger Aid concerts. Bourgeois, vice president of Southside Johnny Productions, said other concerts could benefit other area pantries.

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