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When looking around East Cobb, it’s hard to believe that there are people who need help with housing, food, clothing or job  assistance. However, the number of our neighbors who fall on hard times is growing, and we are fortunate to have MUST  Ministries in our community as a resource for them. MUST is a nonprofit organization that started 43 years ago as a church youth group outreach and now touches 31,000 people in Cobb and Cherokee Counties each year. Their aim is to break the cycle of poverty and provide basic needs for anyone who needs them.

MUST relies on a strong volunteer network and fundraisers like the upcoming Gobble Jog on Nov. 27 to support their many programs. Providing temporary housing at the Elizabeth Inn Shelter is one of the ways MUST gives immediate assistance to men, women and children. In addition to helping these families get back on their feet, MUST also supports a permanent housing program.

Sustained by an extensive network of volunteers, MUST’s Loaves and Fishes Community Kitchen serves two meals a day to clients and provides a sack lunch as well. Lunch is open to anyone in need who is hungry. Last year, MUST served more than 77,000 meals. Additionally, MUST gives almost one ton of food away each weekday and provided 254,906 summer lunches to thousands of community children in eight counties. Bakery donations and local food drives allow MUST to provide groceries for more than 18,000 a year.

MUST opened its first thrift store this year, MUST Marketplace, which gives free clothing to clients and allows shoppers (clients and the public) access to good quality merchandise at discount prices. The retail space is located at 1407 Cobb Parkway North, also the home of MUST’s Marietta Program Services. In addition to the Marketplace, the organization opens two MUST Toy Shops during the holidays to serve more than 3,100 children in Cobb and Cherokee.

“Parents can come into our MUST Toy Shops and handpick gifts for their children out of our donated new stock, which allows them to feel a part of the gift giving process,” shares Dr. Ike Reighard, President and CEO of MUST. “Our goal is provide services in a way that lifts up our participants through their experience with us.”

MUST also provides job assistance through resume advice, interview training, certification assistance and contacts with local industries. Last year, MUST Ministries helped 680 people obtain jobs, putting an estimated $10 million back into the economy while changing the lives of the participants.

No need to feel guilty about how much you eat on Thanksgiving this year. A great way to support MUST is by participating in the 12th annual Gobble Jog in the Historic Marietta Square on Thursday, Nov. 27. There is a Tot Trot, 1K Fun Run/Walk, 5k Run/Walk and a 10K Run. The Gobble Jog event keeps growing each year, and it’s a fun way for families to kick-off the holidays.This year, MUST is expanding the festivities with family activities at the Packet Pickup event and The Very Merry Christmas Tour concert on Sunday evening, Nov. 30.

Visit for race event and concert details or for more information on the organization, ways to give and volunteer opportunities.

(Reprinted from the November 2014 issue of EAST COBBER. Click HERE to read the November issue online.)

MUST Toy Shops Collecting Now, Shop opens Dec. 9


Every Christmas, MUST Ministries sets up two locations, one in Cobb and one in Cherokee, to provide a retail store environment for parents to shop for free items. The MUST Toy Shops are a special treat for families who often have little to nothing for their children to open on Christmas morning, but it’s more than something “extra”. It’s an essential.

“Our shops offer throw blankets, pajamas, underwear, socks, hats, scarves, gloves, school supplies and other necessary items,” according to Paula Rigsby, Seasonal Coordinator at MUST. “We’ve had parents come in who just want the blankets because they have no heat.”

This year, there is a new twist to the dilemma of collecting enough items for more than 3,000 children. “We’ve been told we will be the only agency in Cobb offering gifts for babies and for teens age 16-18. Any family with a child those ages will have to come to MUST for help, so that means they will probably register their whole family with us,” Rigsby explained. “We always have a challenge to collect teen items, so we expect more teens this year and will need additional donations.”

Another challenge is getting dolls of all ethnicities. “A little girl usually prefers a doll that looks like her,” said Paula Rigsby. The Toy Shop can also use books and games in Spanish.

MUST is hoping the community will remember the teens with gifts like jewelry, cologne/perfume, curling irons, blow dryers, jeans, boots, vests, jackets, books, wallets, sports equipment, bikes, belts, purses, watches and handheld games. All items for Cobb can be taken to the MUST Donation Center at 55 Chastain Road, Suite 110, Kennesaw on Tuesday-Saturday, 9-5. Items for Cherokee can be delivered to the MUST Ministries facility at 111 Brown Industrial Parkway, Canton. Monday-Friday,
In addition, MUST will distribute dolls, trucks, stuffed animals and other toys. For babies, MUST is requesting an open box covered in Christmas wrapping paper and filled with at least 7 baby items like bibs, burp clothes, diapers, pacifiers, bottles, sippy cups and other necessities. “It’s the perfect group project, “Rigsby pointed out. “Get together with your neighbors, Sunday School class, scout troop or civic organization and create baby boxes!

Open for 14 days in December, the shops provide personal shoppers to assist parents in making their selections and volunteers who stock the shelves, provide check in and check out, help load cars and unload donations. This year, the Cobb Toy Shop will again be at Piedmont Church and the Cherokee Toy Shop will again be at New Life Church. Both of these generous churches donate space so MUST can serve clients in poverty.

For more questions about ways to help, email The Toy Shops open Dec. 9.


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Who’s that on our November cover?

Flip Through November2014

This month’s cover features a scene from MUST Ministries’ annual Gobble Jog. In what has become a Thanksgiving tradition, thousands of people converge on the Marietta Square to run or walk and raise money for MUST Ministries. The Gobble Jog offers a 10K, 5K, 1K and Tot Trot and even a costume contest at 8:30am (!)- fun for the whole family!

The 12th Annual Gobble Jog on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, is the 7th largest Thanksgiving Day race in the nation! Come enjoy music, sponsor booths and activities for the whole family! For more information, read their story on page 6 of our November issue or visit

With locations in Cobb and Cherokee counties and services in six other counties, MUST Ministries serves almost 31,000 men, women and children every year with food, clothing, housing, and employment services for those in need. For more information about MUST, please visit

Click HERE to read our November issue online. Then visit our Facebook page and tell us what you think!

The undead helping the living – 4th Annual Marietta Zombie Walk is this weekend

The undead of Marietta, Georgia are coming back to help our community of the living on October 18, 2014and for the fourth year the zombies will bring donations to support MUST Ministries. In 2011 we started with over 300 undead and the horde has continued to grow to last year close to 800 strong filling 15 barrels of food and donating almost $2000 to help the living in need.

Carnival of Doom is once again sponsoring the 4th Annual Marietta Zombie Walk benefiting those in need within our local community. All proceeds and collected food from the Marietta Zombie Walk goes directly to MUST Ministries in their mission to help local humans in need. This year, we are truly excited to be part of the Marietta Harvest Square Arts & Crafts Festival and some fun  post-walk activities are in the plans for Glover Park to entertain the undead even more.

What’s a Zombie Walk? A Zombie Walk is an organized (as organized as zombies can be) public gathering of people dressed in zombie costumes.  The walks take place in an urban center as the participants make their way around city streets and through public spaces in an orderly fashion. In Marietta, the undead will again roam the streets around Marietta Square in a not-so-brisk 0.8 mile stumble. This is an undead family event.

There’s a little undead in all of us, so bring out your best zombie look and food donations (human cash & credit card donations work) and join the local undead in Marietta Square. Victims Spectators are welcome to come play with us while helping the local food pantry (zombies do not need food for humans, right?) The Infestation (Gathering) starts at 5pm in Glover Park after the Festival. The Feeding (Walk) starts promptly at6pm. Makeup artists will be on hand during the festival to help bring out the undead for a monetary donation or arrive already in character using your own creativity.

For more info: or or twitter @MariettaZombies (#MariettaZombieWalk)


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Kell Band March-A-Thon to support MUST Ministries

MAT photo2

The Carlton J. Kell High School Marching Band is set to perform in their Sixth Annual March-A-Thon on Saturday, October 25th. Last year was the fifth time that the Marching Longhorns took on this type of fundraiser and community involvement event. According to March-A-Thon coordinators, the goals have always been simple: to connect with the community, to use their talents to give back to the community, and to raise much needed funds for the band itself. The marching band has accomplished these goals all five years.

During the summer and fall months, the band practices in the band parking lot at least 3-4 nights per week and all day on select Saturdays. The homes in the neighboring subdivisions can almost always hear them playing from a distance. The March-A-Thon was created in 2009, when Kell’s Marching Band decided to give the neighbors a chance to hear the band “up close and personal” by marching right down their streets. They passed out flyers in the areas they would be marching through, letting the people know they were coming and asking them to come out and cheer them on. Along the route, the marching band collected donations of non-perishable food and gently used clothing that they would, in turn, take to MUST Ministries. Coordinators were equipped with 55-gallon food barrels, from MUST Ministries, to put the donations in. The residents of Kell’s neighboring communities overwhelmed them with their generosity! The three barrels were OVERFLOWING with f ood! All of the donations of both food and clothing filled the back of a pick-up truck. When the donations were taken to the MUST Ministries drop-off location, the MUST workers were blown away by what had been collected. David McGrath, former Director of Bands at Kell High School, commented “It was such a wonderful feeling to know that our students made a connection with the community and that the community gave back to us in a way that was humbling, to say the least.”

This year’s March-A-Thon will begin with step-off at 2:00 PM from the North Landing subdivision on Trickum Road in Marietta with a destination of Kell High School around 6:00pm. The students will march nearly 6 miles and will continue the tradition of collecting items for MUST ministries. Leading up to the event, the students have been raising monetary donations from friends, family, and local businesses, all in support of the band and this yearly event. Last year, they raised more money with this event than with any other previous fundraiser. Director of Bands, David Roth and Assistant Director of Bands, Taylor Watts appreciate the community support for the Kell Marching Band.

Anyone wishing to make a monetary donation to the Kell March-A-Thon can send them to PO Box 965338, Marietta, GA 30066. All checks should be made out to KBBA (Kell Band Boosters Organization). KBBA is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization.


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Walmart Choses MUST for $100,000 Grant to Fight Hunger

Must Ministries

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation today announced giving more than $54 million in cash and in-kind contributions to charitable organizations throughout Georgia, including $100,000 to MUST Ministries. “Walmart is excited to continue helping the communities we serve,” said Glen Wilkins, director of public affairs and government relations at Walmart.

MUST is applying the contribution to the extensive feeding program at the 43-yr.-old charity. According to Dr. Ike Reighard, President and CEO of MUST, the financial support will provide critical dollars for helping the thousands of clients who rely on MUST for food.

“MUST distributes just under a ton of food every week day through our food pantries,” Reighard explained. Pantries in Marietta, Smyrna and Canton hand out groceries to those in need. In addition free breads and sweets are distributed daily at those locations and additionally at the homeless campus.

The MUST feeding program also includes holiday meals and Thanksgiving boxes. Plus, 77,000 meals are served annually at the Loaves and Fishes Community Kitchen. Shelter clients eat breakfast and lunch there each week day, and all three meals on weekends. Week day lunches are open to anyone who is hungry. The feeding program is a vital part of the $8.2 million charity’s programming.

Reighard said MUST is also grateful to some individual Walmart stores who have made cash donations in the past. “Walmart is focused on addressing hunger relief and so are we. The partnership is ideal because they help supply the funds and we implement the programs. We are deeply grateful to Walmart for their generosity to the 31,000 people a year we serve.”

Walmart is operating globally, but giving back locally to make a significant social impact. MUST serves in eight counties and helps those recovering from poverty by providing basic needs of life, including food, housing, employment services and clothing.


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MUST Ministries Expands Leadership Board

MUST Ministries

MUST Ministries announces eight new members are joining the Board of Directors. MUST is a regional faith-based charity serving eight counties by providing food, housing, employment services and clothing. The new directors are Brian Cartwright, Brannon Fitch, Kevin Isaacs, Sharon Mason, Nelson Mumma, Mitch Rhoden, Bill Robinson and Monte Wilson.

The Vice President and General Manager of Zep Distribution, Brian Cartwright held several positions within the trade organization Consumer Specialty Products Association before joining MUST’s Board of Directors.

Brannon Fitch is the Market President for BB&T Bank and currently a Cobb Chamber of Commerce Board Member

The Director of Sales at Salem Communication, Kevin Isaacs has more than 15 years’ experience in marketing and sales. He is also a former adjunct professor of marketing at Kennesaw State University.

Sharon Mason is Chief Operating Officer at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and is very active in the community. She has served in numerous leadership roles.

New board member Nelson Mumma is Senior Director of Global External Affairs at the Coca-Cola Company. Over the years, Mumma has been actively engaged in numerous church leadership ventures and fundraising endeavors.

Mitch Rhoden is Pres. And CEO of Futren Corp and a licensed real estate broker. He has an MBA and was formerly an engineer officer in the U.S. Marine Corp. He is on the board for the Cobb Chamber, and has volunteered at MUST for 20 years.

Bill Robinson is currently the executive vice president and chief human resources officer at the global technology company, Sabre. Robinson connected to MUST through his volunteering experience with the homeless shelter, The Elizabeth Inn.

WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center COO Monte Wilson is joining the MUST board with extensive experience as a board chairman for several non-profit organizations. He is active in the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and a member of the 2014 Class of Leadership Cobb.


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Golf Tournament to benefit MUST Ministries


Set against the backdrop of the North Georgia Mountains, The Golf Club at Bradshaw Farms is the backdrop for MUST Ministries’ annual golf tournament. Set for Sept. 8 with an 8 a.m. registration and 9 a.m. shotgun start, the event is requesting sponsors and signing up golfers.

The beautiful Woodstock location is recognized for its 27 holes of challenging golf. MUST will provide an opportunity to win a car in a Hole in One Contest and will be giving prizes for top teams, longest drive, closest to the pin and putting. A raffle of great prizes is also scheduled.

All proceeds benefit the 34,000 people a year who come to MUST seeking help and hope. MUST, a volunteer-driven organization serving for 43 years, addresses the basic needs of life to those struggling with food, housing, employment and clothing. MUST has five facilities in Cobb and Cherokee counties and programming in eight counties.

Players can sign up for $125 per golfer at or email for more information.


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Chick-fil-A, MUST team to prepare meals for children

Tyler Hediger, left, of Chick-fil-A, gets some assistance from the company mascot as he loads sack lunches to be delivered to Cobb children as part of the MUST Ministries Summer Lunch Program. About 5,000 children received a chicken sandwich along with the rest of their meal. Staff/Jeff Stanton


Chick-fil-A owners worked together to provide 5,900 lunches Wednesday for children across seven counties who receive free and reduced lunches at school.

Sixty Chick-fil-A locations surrounding Atlanta donated the food and time to make thousands of lunches that were then sorted and delivered by MUST Ministries.

Chris Fields, senior vice president of programs and administration at MUST Ministries, said the summer lunch program has been around for 19 years. Groups of volunteers meet at churches in Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Forsyth, Gwinnett, north Fulton, Paulding and Pickens counties five days a week to make, pack and deliver lunches to nearly 6,000 children across eight counties for 10 weeks during the summer.

“Hunger doesn’t stop when school lets out,” Fields said. “This program makes sure that we know there are 6,000 kids who are going to have a meal on the table every day.”

Kaye Cagle, a spokeswoman for MUST Ministries, said businesses, families and senior assisted living homes frequently donate some meals and food to the program through local churches. This is the first time a business has agreed to donate meals to feed every child for a day as Chick-fil-A did Wednesday, she said.

“I think the most important part of the story is how many children are being fed every day,” Cagle said. “It’s a monumental undertaking.”

Chris Darley, who owns the East Lake Chick-fil-A on Roswell Road, said his restaurant donated 380 meals for volunteers at the First Presbyterian Church off Church Street near the Square to deliver on its three routes. Darley said each meal includes a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich, chips and a cookie.

Darley said he thinks it is important for his business to support and serve the community it’s in, so he was excited to work with 60 other Chick-fil-A franchise owners to deliver the lunches.

“(The owners) wanted to do something together that we couldn’t do on our own,” Darley said.

Martie Moore, the coordinator for the lunch program at First Presbyterian Church, said every week day of the summer 13 volunteers gather at the church to make sandwiches for the children.

“The best thing has been getting to know all the volunteers and the volunteers getting to know each other,” Moore said. “It just kind of builds the community in our church and we also have volunteers from other churches.”

This is the seventh week of the 10-week program, and Fields said 158,000 meals have been delivered so far this summer in MUST’s coverage area. By the end of the program, Fields said 250,000 lunches will have been delivered across the area, and 100,000 will be delivered in Cobb.

Moore, who teaches art classes at Burruss Elementary School, said she enjoys seeing the children over the summer.

“They come in and sometimes they’re all dirty from playing outside all morning, and they’re so cute, and they say ‘thank you,’” Moore said. “This way, you don’t worry so much about them.”

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Hilary Butschek, July 17, 2014. Read the original article here.

Community & Southern Bank Donates Office Supplies to Must Ministries

Must Ministries

Community & Southern Bank (CSB) gives back to the Metro Atlanta community by donating excess office equipment and administrative supplies to a local charity, Must Ministries (MUST). CSB’s donation of chairs, office supplies, printers, desks, filing cabinets and other office items will provide Must Ministries with some of the necessary equipment to meet its administrative duties, as well as furthering its community initiatives.

“MUST is so grateful for corporate citizens who give back to their communities. CSB is a prime example of a community partner, donating numerous items that will help us in so many ways,” said President and CEO Dr. Ike Reighard. “A donation like this helps MUST by allowing us to better serve others.  Additionally, this donation saves our ministry money so we can in turn allocate more funds where it’s needed most. We are humbled and blessed by their generosity.”

Must Ministries, a nonprofit organization, has served the Marietta, Smyrna and Cherokee county communities for over 40 years by providing food, assisting with employment opportunities and housing programs. As a volunteer-driven organization, Must Ministries strives to address the basic needs of individuals, families and children.

“CSB recognizes and values the positive work that Must Ministries has done and continues to do within our community,” said Mark Abernathy, CSB President. “Through such donations, our desire is to support and empower philanthropies that share our commitment to community.”


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