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Maricopa Pantry

Maricopa Pantry is hosting a Family Fun Day on Saturday. Photo by Victor Moreno

By Michelle Trujillo

Maricopa Pantry, a local nonprofit food bank, will throw its inaugural “Family Fun Day” this weekend.

Music, a bounce house, dunk tank, food and beverages, as well as vendor tables will be available to attendees to peruse on Saturday, May 11, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The event, sponsored by Mountain View Community Church, will take place at the church located a few miles southwest of Maricopa at 50881 W. Papago Road.

Jim Shoaf has operated the food bank since 2016 and said money raised at the event will help volunteers provide more food to the community. Funds raised will also help the organization begin a maintenance schedule on the food bank’s equipment and assist in getting refrigeration units running.

Maricopa Pantry provides not only food to local families in need, Shoaf said, but other commodities and essential needs.

“We do what we do because of our love for God and mankind,” Shoaf added.

The food bank operates most Saturdays at the church and at the Maricopa Unified School District Administration Building, 44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

For food bank schedule updates, like the Maricopa Pantry Facebook Page.

Flooding in Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. (AMFPhotography/Shutterstock)

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines neighbor as “a person who lives next to or near another person.” For one group of Maricopans, the word carries a much looser definition that extends far behind immediate proximity.

Recently, in an effort to help their “neighbors” along the Gulf Coast of Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey, several benevolent characters from around the community have stepped up to provide relief to the devastated communities near Corpus Christi.

The organization Copa Central Command, orchestrated in large part by Jim Shoaf, director of the Maricopa Pantry, has set out with the goal of raising ten truck-loads worth of goods to take to the storm-ravaged communities.

Shoaf said he feels for the communities near Houston and in other places where flood damage has reached near epic proportions. However, he said, Harvey’s eye made landfall just east of Corpus Christi, near the city of Victoria and those people will need just as much help as Houstonians.

“Houston is getting the attention of the world,” Shoaf said. “Even when I speak of Rockport here [in Maricopa], in the newspapers they’re writing down that we’re going to Houston.”

The Rockport and Corpus Christi are three to four hours south of Houston.

Hoping to leave Sept. 26, the convoy will take as much food, water and household goods as they can.

But, Shoaf said, there is another aspect to the expedition. He plans to bring volunteer-contractors and craftsmen with tools and light construction equipment to help with repairs and the removal of debris.

“We’re hoping to go down prepared for just about anything,” Shoaf said. “We don’t want to just hand out food; we want to work.”

Shoaf has a few familial ties in the area of Rockport, a city also caught in the eye of the hurricane. Luckily, he said, they avoided much of the devastation and plan to help coordinate things on the ground when the convoy arrives.

The current plan is to head right for the heart of the destruction. Shoaf said things will likely change when the boots hit the ground and thus the group must be willing to adapt.

“We’ll go wherever they need us,” Shoaf said. “We need to be prepared, we need to be flexible.”

Putting together a huge project like this can present logistical issues, Shoaf said. So, he wants to encourage people to not only consider donating goods but to also consider donating cash to help pay for fuel and to help feed the volunteers.

“It’s smart to make sure we’re ready for the trip,” Shoaf said about needing the funds to support the endeavor.

These kinds of events can unfortunately bring out fraudsters and thieves, Shoaf warned. Considering that, he has made sure that anyone accepting donations on the organization’s behalf has been vetted and is in possession of documentation that proves they are part of Copa Central Command.

Currently, Copa Central Command is taking donations at several locations around the city, including the InMaricopa office, Raceway Bar and Grill and Maricopa Water and Ice. For a full list of drop-off locations and recommended donations see the list below.

Maricopa residents are stacking up donations at sites around Maricopa, including the InMaricopa office. Photo by Mason Callejas

Cash donations can be made directly or via a wire transfer into an account held at Desert School Credit Union under the name of Don Herron Relief Fund for Texas (account number 14006873620001).

Shoaf said he appreciates all donations, but he stressed he wants to bring as much new stuff to Texas as possible so people will remember the generosity of Maricopans. Monetary donations help ensure this.

“When we see that lady come up with that baby and that blanket is all torn, I don’t want to give her a used blanket,” Shoaf said. “I want to take it [sic] and wrap her baby in a brand-new blanket, so that she knows the people of Maricopa have a heart and care about them and their community.”