A unique business plan to help hungry children

Colleen Magel didn’t realize so many children suffered from chronic hunger – in her own community – until she helped deliver MUST Summer Lunches. Now she’s found a way to combat hunger through her daily work as a restaurant manager.

Arise Kitchen Colleen Magel 01

Serving as a Summer Lunch volunteer, Colleen delivered healthy bagged meals to children who receive free or reduced-price lunches during the school year, but often go hungry when school is out. In 2017, supporters donated food, assembled lunch bags and delivered more than 275,830 meals to children in six counties of northwest metro Atlanta.

“I saw the kids running out to get their lunches. I saw their living conditions, and I realized they’re in our neighborhood,” Colleen says. “It tugged at me, and I realized I needed to do something.”

Colleen prayed intently, then drew up a business plan and talked with her boss, Paul Dalrymple, at Buffalo’s Café on Highway 41 in Kennesaw. He agreed to begin opening the restaurant for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Colleen calls the initiative “Arise Kitchen,” and half the gross food sales are donated to hunger causes – divided between MUST Ministries and an organization she chose that serves in West Africa.

“This makes good sense for us locally because we’re a community. It fits with our mission as a business,” Colleen says. “Hunger is dear to God’s heart. I drive in these neighborhoods all the time, but now I see the area differently. When you know the children, it changes everything.”

How you can help
Companies that want to help people in poverty: Contact Don Crampton, [email protected].
Learn more about Arise Kitchen at


Honoring and serving veterans

We heal better when we share the journey with others – and veterans in MUST’s supportive housing now can have more fun together thanks to The Home Depot Foundation, which donated a grill, patio heater, picnic tables, outdoor games and a storage shed for our veterans housing in Marietta. Everything got a good workout at the Veterans Day cookout, and a team of MUST volunteers did a great job of assembling the new shed!

The Home Depot Foundation exists to improve the homes and lives of military veterans and their families. More than 35,000 associates of The Home Depot are veterans or active-duty military, and The Home Depot Foundation has committed to grow its commitment to veteran-related causes to a quarter of a billion dollars by 2020. MUST Ministries is glad they have such a heart for honoring and serving those who have served us all.

Please help us today to spread the word about #GivingTuesday!

Friends, we have an amazing opportunity tomorrow (11/28) to boost MUST Ministries in social media.

2017 GT InstagramThis year, Georgia Gives Day has moved to Giving Tuesday, which is a global social media event that can introduce MUST to an audience far wider than we have ever had before. We’re excited about the potential this holds for helping more of our neighbors in need!

All we ask is that you find the #GivingTuesday posts on our Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/LinkedIn and reshare with your friend network!


Important: If people donate on 11/28 during the “power hours” (12-1 pm and 5-6 pm), MUST has a chance to win up to $6,500 in matching-fund prizes.

Please reshare as often as possible until 6 pm on 11/28 so we can reach our maximum audience!

Please help us spread the word! If we reach our $50,000 goal, it will be a 2/3 increase over last year’s #GAgives receipts!


Ga Gives Day moves to Giving Tuesday

MUST Ministries’ annual Georgia Gives Day campaign is getting a major upgrade as the statewide initiative joins forces with the growing worldwide phenomenon of Giving Tuesday. MUST’s campaign page, where donations will be made, is located here. MUST’s hashtag for the campaign is #lovechangeslives.

iStock-489646335_med-res (600x400)From the announcement released by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits:

Georgia Gives Day is officially partnering with #GivingTuesday to become their lead organizer for Georgia, re-launching the state’s 24-hour giving marathon on November 28, 2017 alongside a 50-state, 97-country effort as GAgives on #GivingTuesday. Building on the year-over-year achievements both campaigns have amassed since they launched independently in 2012, organizers are looking forward to increasing momentum, resources, and revenue for the thousands of Georgia nonprofits that take part annually.

GAgives on #GivingTuesday falls on the Tuesday that follows Thanksgiving, and the twin retail phenomena of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, answering the public’s appetite to balance holiday “getting” with community “giving,” and kicking off the end-of-year fundraising season for nonprofits. Presented by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits (GCN), the event will unify the state in an effort to raise as much money and awareness as possible for Georgia nonprofits in a 24-hour period. As in past years, every Georgia nonprofit is invited to create a free ecommerce-enabled profile on the fundraising platform at, where funds raised will go directly to participating organizations.

Bringing together thousands of state charities in one place, makes it easy for Georgians to select a cause that matters to them, learn about the work of individual nonprofits, and donate directly to them. Everyone is invited to give to a cause that matters to them on Nov. 28, and help advance the movement by sharing news of their gift on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and elsewhere – tagged with the phrase #GAgives on #GivingTuesday.

GAgives, also rooted in the Thanksgiving season, has raised more than $13 million in donations for nearly 2,700 Georgia nonprofits since 2012.

GGD partners

Health fair helps 70 homeless

For people living in homelessness, healthcare resources are a desperate need. Twice a year, MUST offers screenings and basic services to try to help stabilize diabetes, lower cholesterol, provide healthy diet information and check vision, for instance. The Sept. 21 event at the Elizabeth Inn Shelter was open to members of the community, as well as MUST clients, and provided 70 people with a range of free services that also included blood pressure checks, flu vaccinations, women’s health information and consultation on mental health. MUST hosted the event in partnership with Wellstar Health System, Walgreens Pharmacy and 10 other healthcare providers.

Wellstar nurse Elizabeth Elder helps a patient understand the results of her blood pressure check.

Wellstar nurse Elizabeth Elder helps a patient understand the results of her blood pressure check.

MUST opens 25th school food pantry to serve at-risk students

August 25, 2017 — In a continued effort to reach more school children and their families in need, MUST Save It Forward is opening its 25th school food pantry at Floyd Middle School in South Cobb. The new pantry was dedicated Aug. 28.

ribbon cuttingMUST serves an estimated 2,900 students and their families annually through the Save It Forward program by providing 75 lbs. of groceries and household supplies to families each month. The food and supplies are procured through food donation drives as well as a unique electronic coupon process supported by volunteers who shop weekly and donate these items.

This community collaboration begins with school counselors identifying families in need and referring to MUST to get started. Volunteers provide support for monthly distribution. The team effort is making an impact, according to Chris Fields, Executive VP at MUST.

“MUST is focused on eliminating hunger for at-risk students in local schools so they may have a greater opportunity to succeed in both school and life. We know hunger affects social behavior, grades, propensity to succeed, relationships and other vital aspects of a child’s life. Overall improvement has been reported and it’s so encouraging,” Fields said.

“We are so grateful to those in our amazing community who are already supporting this important family program and hope others will want to help as well,” Fields said.

For more information about how to donate, shop or volunteer, email [email protected] or call 678-401-8330.

Publix donates $51,000 to MUST’s community services

More than $51,000 is making its way to families in need, thanks to a donation by Publix Super Markets and the Food For All Campaign. Publix representatives presented MUST Ministries with a $26,413.73 check for MUST’s work in Cherokee County (photo) and another check for $25,000 for work in Cobb County.

Publix 51k 170628Publix Super Markets raised a total of $1.4 million in its Food For All Campaign in December 2016, which allowed Publix customers and associates to purchase $1, $3 or $5 donation coupons during checkout. Those proceeds were distributed to 60 nonprofit organizations in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.

Brenda Reid, Publix media and community relations manager said, “Thanks to the generosity of our customers and the enthusiasm of our associates the campaign is helping to make a difference in the lives of so many in the communities we serve.”

With 1,145 stores in six states, Publix has been named one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work for in America” for 20 consecutive years. The Food For All campaign focuses on the fight against hunger.

You can join Publix and make a difference for your neighbors in need by clicking here to donate.

HomeAid Atlanta plans work days at MUST Ministries’ homeless campus

The Elizabeth Inn Shelter at MUST Ministries is the newly selected charity to receive expert help from volunteer professionals in the building field. Thanks to the generosity of HomeAid Atlanta, who works in partnership with the building industry, qualified volunteers will tackle numerous projects on the campus next month, providing a significant gift to the non-profit.

HomeAid will partner with Community Associations Institute of Georgia (CAI) to complete the work at MUST.

“To have professionals come to MUST and offer their services and supplies is a tremendous blessing,” said Dr. Ike Reighard, President and CEO of MUST. “HomeAid Atlanta will complete many projects that need to be done to improve the homeless campus and they will do them well. What a blessing to our clients.”

Last year alone, the Elizabeth Inn campus housed 874 people in the shelter and provided 85,974 meals in the Loaves and Fishes Community Kitchen. In addition, the cold weather shelter, the warming center, employment services and outreach to the homeless are located on this campus, one of 13 locations operated by MUST that serve 30,000 people a year.

“We hear quite a bit about MUST Ministries,” said Jean Hilyard, Director of Engagement at HomeAid Atlanta. “They have a good reputation and we wanted to connect,” she said. “We have the same goals – to help the homeless – so we will be on their campus May 12 and 19 for our Care Day effort.”

The group will be doing pressure washing and other prep work first, followed by building a 12’ custom shelving unit for the Employment Services Classroom on the homeless campus. Also on the task list are painting, a handicapped ramp rebuild, sprucing up decks and ramps on every building and a bathroom upgrade. CAI and partners are also installing a large, interactive children’s artwork areaon the concrete near the children’s playground.

One of the biggest tasks is fixing the large parking lot pavement. From painting doors to replacing old facia boards, the team will tackle an extensive “To Do List”. About 580 CAI of Georgia volunteers are expected to help and will also serve lunch at the Loaves and Fishes Community Kitchen on campus.

“It’s quite an undertaking, but it’s so nice to work with an outreach like MUST that serves so many types of people,” Hilyard said. MUST helps about 30,000 people a year and 80 percent of them are women and children. Most of the clients live in Cherokee and Cobb.

HomeAid, organized in 2001, works in partnership with the building industry, as well as community building organizations, to assist people experiencing homelessness, so it’s a perfect fit with MUST Ministries, Dr. Reighard said. “We are so grateful.”

Hilyard explained it this way, “We want to help people who help so many. And MUST does that well.”

MUST takes leadership role in homeless housing challenge

shelter challengeFollowing the “Shelter Challenge,” a statewide initiative to place as many homeless families and individuals as possible in permanent housing, MUST Ministries is taking an ambitious approach. “We plan to house 90 people in 90 days,” said Program VP Rachel Castillo.

MUST is part of a 19-organization collaborative learning initiative led by the National Alliance to End Homelessness. The group anticipates promising results as they focus on making shelters more accessible and helping those clients quickly obtain stable housing. The target dates for the challenge are March 15 – June 12.

“For 46 years, MUST has focused on helping our neighbors in poverty. Our vast experience has taught us the significant value of stable housing. Last year, we provided 78,486 safe nights of rest to those in need. Through our Elizabeth Inn Shelter, Permanent Supportive Housing, Veteran’s Housing, Tenant Based Rental Assistance and other programs, MUST is already helping 1,222 a year,” Castillo explained.

But with the current crisis in housing, more must be done, she said. 53,000 people in Georgia are homeless, according to Castillo. That’s why MUST is teaming up with affordable apartment complexes, private landlords and community partners so more people can get a second chance. The largest poverty-focused charity in the area, MUST is working every day to place guests from the 72-bed facility.

Of the almost 30,000 served by MUST annually, 1,500 are living in homelessness and thousands more are in acute financial distress, she said. “Many have been living below the poverty level for years and are on the verge of homelessness.

“Based on the media gross income for households and median rent in Cobb County from the U.S. Census Bureau, 47.73 percent of households who rent in Cobb are overburdened by rent costs. Many of the affordable housing complexes in Cobb have closed and addressing the affordable housing challenge has become critical,” Castillo continued.

“Forty percent of our clients are women and children,” Maurice Speaks, Elizabeth Inn Shelter manager, said, “so we have to work hard to find family housing that’s safe and affordable. Our area is very limited in that capacity, but we have recently negotiated to provide 10 more apartments for the disabled who have been chronically homeless and three of those will be for families.”

In a unique approach, MUST is asking community members to help provide home supplies for these clients. Clients who have little to nothing need linens, toiletries, cleaning kits and microwaves. Anyone who wants to help can drop these items off at the MUST Donation Center at 55 Chastain Road, Suite 110, Kennesaw, and mark them “90 in 90” so they can be given to families who finally have a home.

“If everyone works together, we can identify appropriate housing options and help people get started on their paths to stability, Castillo said, “The whole community can get behind this initiative to end homelessness in our area. This effort will change so many lives.

“We work at it every day, but this emphasis on housing will raise awareness and call people together to network in new ways. MUST wants to help as many people as possible and we look forward to the community support for what we hope to accomplish,” Castillo said. “We can all make our community better.”

Want to  help?

Our Amazon Wish List is full of items needed to re-establish a household.
Your generous donation will make a real difference.

MUST partners with KSU to help students feed their children

Many college students face financial challenges, but some struggle with homelessness or have children they are unable to feed.

KSU food pantrySo MUST Ministries is partnering with Kennesaw State University’s Center for Campus Awareness, Resource and Empowerment (CARE) to provide food and toiletries to students in poverty with children to feed.

The CARE Center offers support to students who are struggling with homelessness or who are at risk of becoming homeless, students experiencing food insecurity and those previously or currently in foster care. Among many other services, the center operates two on-campus food pantries.

According to CARE Center director Marcy Stidum, in some cases, these students have more than just themselves to support. If a student is a parent and living in poverty, MUST will supply groceries and toiletries to the family through the child-focused MUST Save It Forward (SIF) program.

“If we ever hope to break the cycle of poverty, we have to eliminate barriers and empower people to succeed,” according to the SIF Team.

“The MUST Save It Forward mission is to eliminate the barrier of hunger so students have a greater opportunity to succeed in school and life. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with KSU, allowing us to now serve students in all levels of education from elementary school all the way through college.”

How to help: A simple gift of $12 a month feeds a family through SIF. Just go to and donate online to help.