Food pantry bounces back after fire

By Christina Myles— 

Staff Writer

Despite the fire last summer that destroyed The Pantry and More, owner Tom Shelton has found in the disaster a “blessing opportunity.”

Standing there, watching his pantry that has been his responsibility ever since the year 2000 burn to the ground, Shelton said he knew that there was something bigger that God had planned for him. Two days later, Greg Wells, an electrician, came up to Shelton and said, “When you get your new pantry, I want to do all of your electricity work for free.” Shelton said he was flabbergasted by the generous offer. He knew from that point on that whatever was in store for him, this was only the beginning.

Sure enough, after that occurrence, everything just started falling into place. When Shelton started looking for a site for the new Pantry and More, he asked Arturo Briseno, who is the owner of AB Ranch and Dairy, if he would like to join him on the hunt. Briseno could not have been happier to be a part of the journey and got to looking right away.

When Briseno finally offered to take Shelton to the place that he was looking at, Shelton could not believe that it was the same place that he fell in love with, but he knew he could not afford it. All Briseno did was look at Shelton and say, “This is going to be the new pantry.”

Once the site for the new Pantry and More was chosen on 2345 U.S. Highway 67 on the eastside of Stephenville, Shelton began to receive calls and offers from all sorts of different companies, such as Electric Coop Company, Wood N Things, Patrick Felt’s Painting, Eliot Electric and Prime Building Materials. They wanted to donate their time and materials to help out in any way they could.

“Everything you see here is donated, and I want to give all the companies and especially God credit,” Shelton said.

Although The Pantry and More is under a lot of construction right now, it is still open to whoever needs it. The non-profit organization tries to help those who need it and does not expect anything in return.

“The Pantry and More is a pantry for all people,” Shelton said. “I don’t care where they live, I don’t care how much money they make! Just call first!”

Although The Pantry and More in theory has no true hours of operation, “The Pantry and More is open when needed—call first,” Shelton said.

No matter what your background, Shelton will greet you at the gate with a giant smile on his face and a welcoming attitude.

Wearing his favorite hat with “Hooked on Jesus” sewn across the top, Shelton continues to carry on the traditions of the old pantry. He still makes crosses out of barbed wire as well as his “cross in my pocket,” which he hands out to anyone he feels like can use a bit of uplifting.

The new lot has a house that is being renovated and wired so Shelton can have a space to make his homemade grape jam. A giant storage unit also is being built to store all of the donated food and clothes. Shelton also is having a garden made so that those who come to the pantry can have an option of fresh vegetables and fruit.

Shelton still does a lot of donating to Mexico and South Africa. For such a small business, Shelton has still managed to find a way to carry on a 10-year tradition to donate over 3,000 30-gallon bags of books, toys and clothes to both countries. Shelton is fluent in Spanish and is an ordained pastor, so he spends church days in the church preaching and volunteer-preaching at Spanish churches.

The Pantry and More continues to get donations daily from people around the city.

“I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for the big hearts of Stephenville,” Shelton said.

Shelton welcomes volunteers who can donate their time or any goods and said Tarleton students can help the pantry even with a dollar donation.

He said he feels this is going to be his biggest project yet and that God has a lot more in store for him.

“This is God’s Pantry,” he said.

To volunteer or donate, call Shelton at 254-592-9696.



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