God will be providing the spiritual guidance, but OOA Director Sheldon Livesay said he’ll follow the lead of major retailers like Walmart and Food City with regard to keeping the ministry’s thrift store and food pantry open.
“Walmart has the big bucks to pay to know exactly when strategic moves need to take place,” Livesay told the Times News. “We’re just going to follow the industry leaders who have the money. We’re not approaching anything with fear.”
However, even if the thrift store has to be closed, food pantry services won’t be interrupted.
OOA operates food pantries in Rogersville, Church Hill and Sneedville, as well as thrift stores in Rogersville and Sneedville, and it provides a variety of other services including meal deliveries and a medical mission in Church Hill.
“We will maintain the ability to give out food to people who need it,” Livesay said. “The folks who can show up, we will still give food out of our food pantry.”
“Emergency relief center for our community”
The Shepherd Center is considered a disaster relief distribution center through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), as well as the Red Cross and Second Harvest Food Bank.
“So, even if our folks weren’t able to show up, we’re the designated place for Second Harvest to pull their truck and distribute food out of the back of the truck,” Livesay said. “They’re planning their disaster response based on that, so we don’t plan on any disruption at all, but if there were a disruption, we’ll still be the place, and it would be advertised in the paper when and where people can still find help.”
He added, “As of now our goal would be, as an emergency relief center for our community, keeping services open because the people who don’t have food today won’t have food tomorrow.”
“We would not take risks with our people”
Livesay noted that there are no COVID-19 cases in Hawkins County, and still only one case confirmed in Sullivan County, so there’s no need to panic.
“We feel that of anybody, the church of our county, which is all the churches, should bring Christ-centered leadership to bring stability and balance to what’s going on,” Livesay said. “We’re not going to take risks, and we’re not going to put ourselves in risky situations. We’re going to do what is necessary and needed.”
Livesay added, “Just like if there was an epidemic of the flu, we would not take risks with our people. We would use every caution. But at the same time, on the spiritual side, we do have answers to a world that approaches things with fear and panic. We want to be able on a moment’s notice to be able to share what we feel like is the answers.”