Food pantry serves community and continues legacy


CERRO GORDO, Ill. (WCIA) — A woman in Cerro Gordo wasn’t expecting a charity to fall in her lap.

But, she’s taking it in stride. A close friend of Lori Powers ran a food pantry.

When her friend got to the point where she couldn’t do it anymore, she asked Powers if she’d take the reigns.

Powers said she couldn’t imagine saying no.

Tucked away in the heart of Cerro Gordo Methodist Church, you’ll find a labor of love.

The walls are lined with foods, drinks, and toiletries.

It’s an effort Rhonda Tohill had a lot of faith in.

“It was her life,” said Powers.

Powers called Rhonda Tohill one of her closest friends. She described Tohill as such:

“Ornery…ornery as the day is long, loud, bossy, gave the best hugs in the whole wide world, but loved people and never met a stranger,” said Powers.

A day came when Tohill knew she had to leave the business behind.

She wanted to leave it in good hands.

“When she got ill and had cancer, she asked me if I would take it over for her, and how do you tell them no? So I said of course I will,” said Powers.

For the past three and a half years, Powers has been stocking these shelves, helping families in need, and all the while remembering her dear friend.

“Oh I hear her all the time…she’s here telling me what I’m doing right and wrong all the time,” said Powers. “But it extends her wish to be involved with the people who needed help in the community.”

Pastor Lee Legg says it’s only natural this legacy lives in the church.

“It’s kind of a Matthew 25 where we are serving those in need of food and other services,” said Legg. “We are blessed, and so we want to be a blessing to others as well.”

With a full time job, and juggling other responsibilities, Powers says it’s not always easy keeping up, but no matter what, she’ll keep on.

“She is always in my ear telling me that it’s needed, and I need to keep going. And I do,” said Powers.

While the pantry serves people in the area, Powers said they also serve disaster victims.

For example, they sent food and supplies down to Florida to help Hurricane Michael victims.

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