Jesus said in essence, “Inasmuch as you serve the least of these, you serve me.”
Throughout the Bible, God shows His compassion for the sick, the poor, the hungry, orphans, prisoners, and immigrants, in short, anyone in need. Many embrace these words, few live them daily as much as Virginia Ray and her unwavering volunteers at Project Inasmuch on John’s Road.
The organization focuses on providing weekend meals to school children in the area who might otherwise go hungry. Many of these children are able to partake in school meals during the week, but then may struggle for food and nutrition over the weekend. That is where Ms. Ray and her volunteers step in.
More than the director, Ms. Ray is the pied piper (some would also jokingly say drill sergeant) behind Project Inasmuch. But as anyone will tell you, a general is only as strong as their army. And in Ms. Ray’s case, her army is on par with Special Forces.
“I couldn’t do it without my volunteers, says, Ms. Ray. “They work so hard and are so faithful, always doing whatever needs done. They are so deserving. I am so pleased they are receiving this award.
What started over ten-years ago in response to a need, has blossomed into a cause and a passion. The program started in response to a request from a local principal. School children who were able to take part in the school lunch program were often going the weekend without proper meals. There was a noticeable difference in their energy and attention on Mondays.
In response, Ray and a few others packed 50 lunch bags for students to take home over the weekend. Over the years, the effort has expanded and the organization now provides students access to over 900 meals each weekend. Over the summer, the organization continues to reach out to students and families, providing food and other supplies on a monthly basis.
“The volunteers at Project Inasmuch have a drive to make it happen. They are a tenacious group,” says State Rep. Garland Pierce who has known the organization since its inception. “Project Inasmuch and these volunteers really makes a difference to the boys and girls. They may not know where the meals come from, but I’m sure many will be compelled to pay it forward when they are able. Her legacy, and the dream of the volunteers will live on in our community.”
The mission starts every Wednesday evening when Ms. Ray and her band of volunteers gather at the Project Inasmuch facility to organize, pack, and prepare the meal bags. The volunteers coordinate with all the schools in the county to put together bags filled with items like applesauce, fruit snacks, crackers, milk and juice boxes for children who might not have anything to eat over the weekend. They then transport the bags to the schools on Friday. Each bag also has a simple message written on it: “Jesus Loves You.” “It’s a message we want each child to hear,“ says Ms. Ray. I’m sure each child also knows Virginia Ray and her volunteers love them as well.
“The volunteers of Project In As Much are angels on Earth,” says Jamie H. Synan, Director of Student Support Services for Scotland County Schools. “They spend countless hours to ensure the children of Scotland County are fed and taken care of throughout the school year and summer. There are so many things done behind the scenes by these volunteers that impact the lives of children and families.”
It is people like Virginia Ray and volunteers at Project Inasmuch that make Laurinburg and Scotland County a special place. A place where so many people continue to reach out and extend their hand to others. Therefore, in recognition of the many volunteers behind Project Inasmuch , we join Ms. Virginia Ray in presenting to her volunteers the “The Honour of the Long Leaf Pine for Distinguished Service.” This award is in recognition of the efforts they provide, but also the love and care they give the community. It is this unwavering faith and commitment to the community that helps make Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to live, work, and play.
Despite this recognition, be fully aware that those at Project Inasmuch would exchange any and all recognition to simply feed one more child…one more meal. If you agree and embrace this passion, remember that Project Inasmuch is made possible by the donations they receive and the tireless efforts of their volunteers. If you would care to provide any assistance, you may call Project Inasmuch at 910-610-5422 or contact them by mail at: 104 Johns Road, Laurinburg, NC 28352
Cory Hughes, executive director of the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority, wrote this week’s Focus on Scotland, an effort by community leaders on making Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to work, live, and play.