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