Back in 2009. Melba Sickles and her sister Barbara Martin stepped past wishful thinking and opened a food ministry to serve the local community. Today, Fruitful Harvest is serving 60-65 families weekly with a quantity of fresh produce plus a box of staples per qualifying family through an arrangement with the NE Texas Food Bank. Each week’s assistance also includes a printed devotional message, and time is available at the pick-up location for prayer and encouragement for those in need. Fruitful Harvest Food Ministry is a local offshoot of missions begun by Charlie Sickles, who continues to stay hands-on involved in prison ministries and international missions. Read on to find out how the small local mission gets needed food into the hands of local persons.
At their warehouse on California Street in Sulphur Springs, Melba and Barbara have a regular core group who gladly volunteer their time on Mondays, plus other individuals who pitch in when they can. Between 2 and 5pm, Melba is ready with a clipboard and a list of clients who qualify through proof of income. The “outdoor” crew under the welcome canopy includes Vickie Hathcoat, Millie Nylan, Mike Sellers and Katherine Ferguson, plus Alma and Carol who frequently assist clients select and bag produce. On break this summer from college, Blake provides the “muscle”, doing carry-outs to clients’ vehicles. Just steps away in the warehouse, Barbara is assisted in packing boxes of staples and frozen foods by Candi and Shelby, and by Brandy who doubles in carry-out chores. Small families or single persons get one size box, and larger families receive a larger box. Because of the ministry’s 501c3 status, food is purchased in bulk through the Food Bank at very low cost, and the cost is covered through the generosity of the sponsors of Fruitful Harvest Ministries. All labor is provided on a volunteer basis.
Melba and Barbara believe that each week’s distribution of food impacts 200 people or more. The volunteers feel that their lives are blessed by the labor they perform, and sponsors know that their donations are well spent. Melba and Charlie are pleased that they can share their ministry’s “spirit of caring” with the community as well as their grandchildren. According to Melba, the only need they have is carry-out help as that requires a strong back and youthful energy! If interested, inquire on Mondays at 413 California Street in Sulphur Springs.