MOLINE, Illinois — All over our area, there are people who are not just doing good - but Multiplying Good.
Every year, we honor them with the Jefferson Awards - a nationwide foundation that celebrates amazing acts of public service. 2021 is WQAD News 8's 7th Season of being a Jefferson Awards Media Partner, sponsored locally by Genesis Health System and Budget Blinds.
From January 14th to March 4th, News 8's Angie Sharp is introducing you to this year's nominees. To see all of our Jefferson Awards Nominees, past and present, click here.
2021 Jefferson Awards: Pastor Donnie Plemons
Pastor Donnie Plemons' ministry is based on a single verse from the Bible:
"From Matthew 25 - feed those who are hungry."
It's a simple mission, led by a simple man whose passion defines his profession.
Pastor Donnie leads the Grace Bible Fellowship in Moline. Its bread and butter - literally - is their food pantry, which is open three days a week, helping up to 3,000 families a month.
"We have folks that have told us if it weren't for this pantry we wouldn't be able to live," he says.
It started more than 30 years ago, when Donnie created a congregation in an unusual place:
They started off worshipping in a hotel conference room to eventually get into an old school and turn it into a church and ultimately open a pantry with breads and sweets and then eventually two walk-in coolers and two walk-in freezers and a produce run and dry goods," explains Congregation Member Shane Snyder, who nominated Pastor Donnie for the Jefferson Awards. "The guy even has a fork truck!"
It's a year-round operation, complete with big giveaways around the holidays that feed more than 1,000 people in one day.
"It's thrilling that we have that and got all these people that help it go and make them feel good," explains Pastor Donnie. "You know, there's always that thought – well do they deserve it? Well, I feel like God has helped us get above that – beyond that – and that we just give. It's a privilege to give."
It's proof that "service" is not just a word used to describe what happens once a week in a sanctuary. It's what happens at Grace all the time, because of him.
"Helping others is always something inside your soul. It really does a lot for you."
Pastor Donnie is "Multiplying Good" by filling our stomachs and feeding our souls.
The Grace Bible Fellowship Food Pantry is located at the corner of 16th Street and 36th Avenue in Moline. It's open every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.