MUST Ministries saw a 31 percent increase in Summer Lunch distribution

MUST Ministries has been coordinating Summer  Lunches for children living in poverty for 18 years and MUST Ministries Summer Lunch checkers and packersthis year saw a 31 percent increase in the lunches as the final tally soared to a record-breaking 247,087!  Almost a quarter of a million sack lunches reached hungry children this summer thanks to an overwhelming effort by communities in eight counties.

“This is an amazing accomplishment for the Summer Lunch 2013 team,” according to Kelley Henderson, Vice President and Chief Programs Officer. “Not only did they meet the hunger needs of more than 6,000 children across eight counties, they worked together to our little neighbors in need. This monumental effort showcases MUST Ministries’ continued commitment to working with local community partners in service across North GA.

“A special thank you to our partners, volunteers, benefactors, sandwich makers, bag decorators, checkers and packers, drivers, PB&J mixers, cold cut stackers, and of course our outstanding team of staff,” Henderson said. With numerous groups and organizations involved in making this happen, the list is too long to innumerate, he said, “but we are grateful to churches, civic clubs, sports teams, scout troops, families, businesses and individuals who all pitched in to make this happen.

For Cherokee County, the number of summer lunches rose to 67,5489 from 51,338  for Cobb County, the number rose to 90,537 from 85,140 ;  Douglas County 24,947 from 15,976; Gwinnett 23,365 from 16,367; North Fulton 26,747 from 20,833; and we added Bartow  and Pickens Counties with 8,299 and 5,643 respectively.

Henderson estimated a 58 percent increase over the last four years as MUST Ministries has gone from serving Cobb and Cherokee Counties to reaching Bartow, Douglas, Gwinnett, North Fulton, Paulding and Pickens as well. “It’s remarkable what a community can do when they all work together on one cause. We are pleased to help lead this crusade to serve children in need in our area.”

MUST Ministries Summer Lunch children living in poverty



Why should you choose MUST Ministries as your charity?

MUST Ministries North Georgia non profitWhy should you choose MUST Ministries as your charity?

That’s a good question.  There are so many charities and nonprofits out there to choose from.  They all appear to do good deeds, have their heart in the right place, but how do you know which one will use your donation dollars the most effectively?  Here are just a few things to consider:

1)     How does your charity measure up?  Has it been rated by Charity Navigator or Standards for Excellence?  These are two independently rated sites that were created to help the public determine which nonprofits they can trust.  They review charities and document the financial health and transparency so you know where your dollars are being spent.   Don’t be fooled!  There are many sites that claim to do the same, but all a charity needs to do is become a paid member to get a good rating.

2)     Is your charity a 501(c)3?  The Internal Revenue Coded (26U.S.C. 501(c) ), provides that 28 types of nonprofit organizations are exempt from some federal income taxes, however, not all can receive donations.  A 501(c)3 identifies a public charity in the United States by the IRS.  In short, this allows your donation to be tax deductable.  Just because they say they are a 501(c)3 charity, doesn’t mean they are.  Be sure to do your homework to confirm their 501(c)3 status.

3)     Is your charity using a middleman to collect donations?  Did you know when you get calls for donations, many times a third party company is used and a percentage of the amount donated goes to that company?  Make your donations directly to your charity by donating online or mailing your check.

4)     Are you spread too thin?  While diversifying your portfolio when investing in stocks is a good thing, you want to do the opposite with your philanthropic giving.  Once you decide which cause you are passionate about, and find a worthy charity, concentrate your giving so it will make a bigger impact.

I have to admit, before I started working for MUST Ministries, I did not research my charity donations.  I would make donations to just about anyone who asked (if I had the money).  Because MUST has been awarded Charity Navigator’s 4 star rating 5 years running and is one of only 230 organizations in America to receive the Standards for Excellence award, I’m proud to say I work for MUST because I know my donations are used wisely.  How does your charity measure up?

Couponing a new way of helping

extremecouponTwo volunteers at Smyrna Program Services at MUST Ministries are creatively helping to feed those in need. Deb Chamblee and Stacey Brown became friends through volunteering at MUST Ministries.  Their three year volunteer experience has not only forged a friendship but they have also become great couponing buddies. “We really wanted to help people, so we started comparing and collecting coupons”

Deb explains that the idea to expand their help to MUST Ministries through couponing “started when I was in my grocery store and the cashier offered me coupons for free Chef Boyardee products” she further explains “I told her I don’t eat those meals and didn’t need the free Chef Boyardee products”.  The cashier noted, ‘But don’t you volunteer at MUST?’ I walked out of there with 27 free cans of food and realized I could really help. Now people bring us coupons and we each commit to spend $5 per week. People are amazed at how much we bring in.”

Aside from volunteering, the two couponer spend time looking intently for useful items they can get for little or no cost. They buy deodorant, cereal, peanut butter and other staples in the MUST food pantry. In December, Deb even found coupons for a free transformer toy, went to the store and then took the toys to the MUST Toy Shop.

“Our husbands grew up in this area,” Stacey explained, “and we want to help our community”  The bonus is that aside from helping the community Deb and Stacey have managed to cut their own grocery bills in half and encourage others to do the same. It’s a win-win for everyone. They learned that it doesn’t take a lot of effort or much money to make a big impact in someone else’s life.

For more information on how to get involved at MUST Ministries, go to  The charity for those living in poverty helps 34,000 people in eight counties. Almost half of those clients are children.

Students Full of Compassion Make Empty Bowls

The students of A.L. Burruss Elementary hosted an “Empty Bowls” project to help MUST Ministries.  Martie Moore, the art teacher who is part of  the Special Area Interest Learning program (SAIL) wanted to do an Empty Bowls project for some time and thought this would be the perfect occasion to teach the students not only how to make bowls without using a potter’s wheel, but also to raise awareness and serve those in need.

The students who made the empty bowls researched charities at the local, national and international level.  Once they narrowed the search to two non-profits, they visited the MUST website where they watched the video recapping the last 40 years of MUST service to their neighbors in need.  Ms. Moore believes it was this video that was the deciding factor for the students to choose MUST as their charity to support.

The 14 students spanning grades 3 – 5 made 42 bowls for the fundraising event.  One child even saved his own money during the 6 week project so he could purchase one of the empty bowls for himself.   They sold 27 of the 42 empty bowls at  a school event raising, raising $135.

A big thanks goes out to those inspiring students for their efforts!

Cobb charity seeks food, financial donations

But Sharon’s story is not unique.


 A Cobb County charity has seen more and more needy families, but its food and monetary donations are drastically down.

Right now, MUST Ministries only has enough to feed the hungry for the next two weeks.

The Marietta charity’s food supply has dropped while the requests for assistance just keep on rising.  Read more…

MUST Helps ‘Step Up Your Game’ in the Job Hunt

‘Step Up Your Game’

Almost 50 people arrived at MUST Ministries on Sept. 13 to learn skills that will help them get a job. MUST hosted the “Step Up Your Game” event in conjunction with other non-profits in the area, including Nobis Works, Goodwill, Center for Family Resources and Cobb Works. The collaborative event was the second conference this group has coordinated.  Read more…

Christmas Toy Shop

It’s that time of year again!


Believe it or not, preparations are underway for Christmas at MUST Ministries!

Christmas is ComingMUST Toy Shop will openDecember 5, 2012MUST will host a volunteer orientation for the upcIf your group would like to volunteer for a shift or host a Toy Drive.Please come to our orientation to get all your questions answered.
MUST MinistriesMarietta Location1407 Cobb Parkway NorthMarietta, GA 30061Use the staff/volunteer entrance(back portion of the building) MUST MinistriesCherokee Location141-B Marietta RoadCanton, GA 30114Use the staff/volunteer entrance(back portion of the building)
October 16th 10 amOctober 17th 2 pmOctober 18th 6 pm October 16th 6 pmOctober 17th 9 amOctober 18th 2:30 pm
Each orientation will last about 1 hour depending on the amount of questions.The group leader will need to attend only one orientation.


Please select one of the sessions to attend. For further information or questions, please contact Paula Rigsby at or at 678-218-4488.