No matter how Hawkins County is affected by COVID-19, Of One Accord’s Reverend Sheldon Livesay told the Review that the organization will be here for the community.

“Staffing is a little shorter right now, but we’re trying to remain fully open,” Livesay told the Review.

OOA will follow suit with large retailers such as Walmart in regard to their plans to keep their services open and running.

“If Walmart were to close, then we would know that it’s time to close,” Livesay said. “But, our food pantries are going to remain open because not only are we a business in the front of the store, we are a public service in the back.”

Food pantries will remain open

Current food distribution days include Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to around 7:30 p.m. at both the Rogersville and Church Hill locations.

Livesay explained that the Rogersville location is sometimes open until around 8 p.m. on particularly busy Tuesday nights, but he encouraged people who need food to come early to ensure they don’t miss the distribution.

In months that contain five Tuesdays, the food pantry is only open for the first four.

The pantry at the Shepherd’s Corner in Sneedville is also open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

However, the food pantries depend solely on volunteers, and Livesay explained that they will need a steady stream of volunteers in order to keep things running.

“We’re asking our community for folks who are willing and might already serve in a first responder capacity to volunteer,” he said. “Our entire process is staffed with volunteers, and we can’t be open without them. We’re going to keep our food pantry open full-time even if things get to the next level—and I don’t expect them to—when major businesses like Food City and Walmart would have to close. In that case, our thrift store would follow suit, but we want to be the disaster relief center for Hawkins County.”

He noted that business at the thrift stores has dropped in recent days.

“Except for the large grocery stores that have been overrun, I would imagine that most businesses in Rogersville have greatly suffered,” he said. “We fall in that category. We are dependent upon the public, as most small businesses are. We don’t have reserves, and I know that many small businesses don’t. So, what happens with their future depends upon what happens now. But, many people are staying home to be safe, and we don’t slight anyone for that.”

OOA is already recognized as a disaster relief distribution center through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) as well as the Red Cross and Second Harvest Food Bank.

“If we were to run completely out of everything we had, and we couldn’t get our normal truckloads of food into our facility, there will be disaster-relief vehicle pull in our parking lot,” he said. “We would advertise this on the radio and in the paper. Then, they would just distribute the food off the back of the truck. We’re more than just a ministry, we’re more than a thrift store—we are a disaster-relief site. We’re planning on being here to serve people no matter what happens.”

The church should offer Christ-centered leadership

“We don’t want people to take unnecessary risks or be careless; however, we believe and want the church of Hawkins County, which is all of the churches combined, to offer Christ-centered leadership of stability and balance at this time,” Livesay told the Review. “I emphatically say that we have the answer. In a time of fear, anxiousness and panic, the church should be able to bring hope, peace and calm to an unstable world. Most of the folks who are very anxious are, subconsciously, not anxious about what’s happening temporally. Knowing that there is a long period of time after we leave this earth, most of the people who are anxious are anxious about what is happening eternally. We’re looking for our churches to step up during this time. All throughout history—when God’s people come together across denominational lines, amazing things can happen.”