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Georgia church helping neighbors by offering free bread, toilet paper

"We have extra and if folks need some, I think we have a sacred responsibility to share,” pastor Tony Lankford said.

ST. SIMONS, Ga. — Lending a helping hand: that is what a church on St. Simons Island is doing as folks navigate the coronavirus.

Some people are struggling to find or afford essential items like toilet paper and bread, so the church came up with a creative way to help.

“My hope is that someone saw it and they were inspired them to think creatively or outside the box, in ways, they can be a good neighbor in the unique time and circumstances that we are in.” Pastor Tony Lankford of First Baptist Church of St. Simons Island said.

He is used to tending to his flock but when word spread around the island that people needed essentials like bread and rolls of toilet paper, he and his congregation came up with an idea.

“We had just gotten a big box of toilet paper. We have extra and if folks need some, I think we have a sacred responsibility to share,” Lankford said.

Normally there are free books in their little library fashioned to look like the 72-year-old sanctuary. In a time of need, however, the contents have shifted.

Lankford says it’s a tough time – particularly so close to Easter: a time when the pews are filled. Now he’s leading services online. It’s different he says, but something everyone will need to get used to for a while.

“We have people who may not normally join us in worship, join us in worship," Lankford said. "This past week I got emails or communications from folks in four different states."

In the meantime, they’re doing their best to roll with the changes and that all starts with staying true to their mission: taking care of one another.

“Hopefully it’s helped us refocus on who the church is called to be, not just a building we go and enter in on Sundays but a place from which we go and serve the community,” Lankford said.