AMBOY — For the citizens of Amboy, the big beautiful red brick church building on Mason Avenue represents more than a place of worship. The First Baptist congregation, under the direction of pastor Rocky Fritz has provided a welcoming place of Christian fellowship along with caring for those who have needed assistance.
Carol Fritz, the Pastor’s wife, a very humble and unassuming director of the church’s food pantry, takes great pride in the hard work and dedication that she’s invested since they opened their doors back in 2000. Housed in the large annex building behind the church, the neatly arranged shelves of the pantry create a welcoming atmosphere for those less fortunate.
“It can be a terrible blow to feel that you need help due to an unforeseen change in people’s lives,” explained Carol.
“I want our bank to be an easy and comfortable place to come,” Carol said.
One such patron has found the bank to be a lifesaver.
“I’m on disability and the way things continue to go up in price I barely have any money left over after paying my bills,” said Gary Edwards. “I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the nice produce and meat that they give me. I’m very grateful to Carol and Rocky.”
Some of the keys to success according to Fritz start with donations. The Pork Producers, Lion’s Club, Depot Days Car Committee, and too many more to mention, have played a vital part in sustaining the bank for the past 21 years. Then there are the volunteer church members and the community giving a helping hand.
“We recently received a 17,000 pound food order and I always have families and individuals willing to break it down,” Carol said. “I certainly couldn’t do it with out them.”
Carol places orders once a month with the River Bend Food Bank in Davenport, Iowa. This agency receives government commodities which in turn evenly divides the funding to their local organizations. Some of the items include; frozen meat, dairy products, and non-perishables like, soap, shampoo, light bulbs, and face masks.
The bank is also able to purchase food at an incredible 18 cents a pound. So, according to Carol, although all donations are appreciated, instead of dropping off a few cans of vegetables, a monetary contribution can go so much farther as a result.
“If someone gives us ten dollars for example, we can buy so many more boxes of cereal than if they go to the store on their own and buy it,” shared Carol.
The food bank is primarily for the residents in Lee County, but no one is ever turned away. On average 150 households are serviced on a monthly basis. The love and support has also been felt around the world. Nathan, the son of Carol and Rocky, is a missionary and last Christmas while home for a visit helped load a container bound for Cape Verde, Africa where he is stationed. The bank donated a very large amount of pinto, lentil and split pea dry beans.
“It was just a great feeling to help out those people in dire need,” said Carol. “Really, this is what we are all about.”
The bank is open on the first and third Saturdays of the month from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.