Everyday Hero: Eston Mayfield
BOLLINGER COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - The holidays are all about spending time with family and sharing a good meal, but for some in the heartland, putting food on the table is more difficult.
This month’s Everyday Hero, Eston Mayfield, works to ensure folks in Bollinger County have enough to eat over the holidays and year-round.
“He’s the type of person that if you need help -- here’s my number, call me,” said Bryan Thompson of Bollinger County.
In his younger years, Mayfield was a volunteer firefighter responding to calls for service any time day or night.
Mayfield still works out of an old fire house, but these days he’s responding to a different sort of emergency. Now when people call him for help it’s because they’re threatened by not flames, but hunger.
“You definitely learn that the need is out there,” said Mayfield. “And more people need to realize that it’s out there and become more aware of their surroundings.”
Food insecurity is more of a problem in the Heartland than many people may realize. A five-year Census average shows the poverty rate nationwide between 2013 and 2017 was right around 14.6 percent. In Bollinger County it was much higher at 19.9 percent.
That means nearly one in five families in Bollinger county struggle to put food on the table… That’s where Mayfield and his fellow volunteers at the Little Whitewater Baptist Church Food Pantry come to the rescue.
“It’s astonishing at what some of these people try to live on month to month. Absolutely astonishing,” said Mayfield. “I know there’s people out there too proud to ask for food. I know they’re out there.”
The food pantry started in one room of the Little Whitewater Baptist Church. Mayfield says there were just two families regularly receiving food boxes the church had put together. But when Mayfield took the task over, he made it his mission to let people know if there was a need – the food pantry would meet it.
“I’ve got 140 names on the grocery list right now, and 75 on the commodity list,” said Mayfield. “So that’s how much we’ve grown.”
“I think nobody knew the need at first,” said Valerie Mayfield, Eston Mayfield’s wife and then by word of mouth and by flyers and Eston talking to people, I think the need’s been shown that there was a need all along, but perhaps people didn’t know where to turn.”
Now, they turn to Eston Mayfield and the Little Whitewater Baptist Church Food Pantry. Twice a month Eston Mayfield and his volunteers box up food and distribute it to families in need.
As the food pantry’s list grew, the group had to relocate out of the church into the old firehouse next door, but Eston Mayfield says they may need to expand again to meet the growing need.
“They come from all over Bollinger County. All over south of Marble Hill. I think some come from Marquand, but they’re still in Bollinger county,” said Eston Mayfield. “It just amazes me how much it’s grown in four years.”
“It seems like they’re mainly senior citizens that don’t have enough money at the end of the month,” said volunteer Jan Mayfield. “So, we feel like we’re helping them kind of stretch things out because it’s either buy groceries or buy their medicines and go to the doctor.”
Thanks to the Mayfields and Little Whitewater Baptist Church Food Pantry, that’s a choice they don’t have to make.
“I’ve always known he was good man with a big heart,” said Valerie Mayfield. “This just shows how much heart he has to help more than his family. He can help his whole community and anyone who needs it.”
“I receive a blessing,” said Eston Mayfield. “Just to see them come in and I know they’re gonna have something to last them -- It just makes me feel good.”
The Little Whitewater Baptist Church Food Pantry gets regular support from local churches, the Patton Lyons Club, and the United Way to help feed the need.
If you know someone who should be recognized as an Everyday Hero, click here to make your nomination.
We’ll profile an Everyday Hero each month on Heartland News.
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