Des Moines woman's dying wish helps feed hundreds of people

Published: Nov. 12, 2017 at 4:59 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Sandy McNamar and her husband, Brian, were active in the Staves Memorial United Methodist Church, and they had big expectations for the community, including a food pantry.

So when the 57-year-old found out she was terminally ill with cancer, she asked members of her church to bring donations of food in lieu of flowers to her funeral.

“She left a big hole in the church when she left us,” said Margo Schamerhorn, who heads the food pantry. “She really wanted, both of them wanted, to see the food pantry go through.”

McNamar died of a rare muscle cancer earlier this year, but she requested that the community bring donations to the food pantry to her funeral.

The church ended up with more than 2,000 pounds of donated food.

“Words can’t describe it,” Schamerhorn said. “This just warms your heart.”

Now the Sandy McNamar Memorial Food Pantry gives back to the community every other Saturday. There’s also a free community meal at 5 p.m. on the last Saturday of the month.

“We don’t turn anyone away,” Schamerhorn said. “As long as you’re here and you say you have a need, we’re here for you.”

Church members say the food pantry helps 20 to 40 people each time it is open.

“A lot of them are just happy there is a place they can come that doesn’t necessarily base on their income,” said Cat Stokes, food pantry head. “Doesn’t say you can only come once a month.”

The food pantry has items such as canned meat, fruit and vegetables, school supplies, shampoo, toothpaste and other personal hygiene items.

“It’s nice knowing that they can come here, that they are not going to be shamed, that nobody is going to point out their shortcomings here, that they can come as they are, which is as it should be,” Stokes said.