Junior Miss Chocolate Festival queen makes sweet donation

Suzette Lowe
Danielle Powell and Cindy Blackburn accept the generous gift to the Nazarene Church Baby Pantry from Arianna Barr.

Many times, a child sees the solution to a problem very simply. If there’s a need, take care of it.

When Arianna Barr heard from her friend, Emily Blackburn, that the Ripley Church of the Nazarene had a baby pantry, she wondered what they might need. Barr, who is the reigning Junior Miss Chocolate Festival Queen, asked her mom to help her find out.

“I had known Emily’s mom, Cindy, for a long time,” Julie Barr said. “So we already had a connection established.”

They were told the greatest needs were diapers, wipes, and formula. With the high cost of these items, Arianna and her mom decided they needed to come up with a plan to raise funds.

The 8-year-old festival queen and her mom approached several local businesses for items to give away in a drawing, with the grand prize being a basket filled with products. Each dollar donated earned a chance in the drawing. That grand prize went to Karen Pulliam.

Since May 25, the Barrs have used social media to spread the word about both the contest and the cause.

“We raised $455,” Arianna said proudly. “And that makes me very happy.”

Danielle Powell who oversees the pantry, with the assistance of Cindy Blackburn, was very touched by Barr’s request to help.

“It’s such a blessing when others think of us,” she said. “We are really trying to offer tangible help to our community.”

The donations were used to purchase several boxes of diapers, wipes, and a few cans of formula which Barr delivered.

The pantry, which has been in operation since 2018, has no income requirement. Any parent is welcome to get items whenever needed. Normally, items available include clothing, toys, car seats, along with the diapers, wipes, and formula.

Powell says that with the pandemic, the pantry has had to adjust to a drive-up service.

“We pretty much just give out the basics, especially diapers and pull-ups,” she said. “But if people call ahead and let us know sizes, we can get some clothing together. And if the need is a car seat or a pack ‘n play, we can help with that if we have notice.”

When asked what the community can do to support the pantry, Powell says monetary donations and diapers are most welcome.

“Before the health situation we’re in now, we were seeing 15-20 families each time we were open,” she said. “But the other day we had 13 so it’s not slowed down much.”

Blackburn said that, in addition to Barr’s gift, there have been some special donations.

“Many of those that we’ve helped come back and donate,” she said. “That’s always a blessing.”

Powell says the next thing on the agenda, once restrictions allow, is to have a car seat drive.

As for Barr, her parents are very proud of her but not surprised.

“She’s the oldest of three children,” her mom said. “She is always more concerned with them having what they need before she thinks of herself.”

Barr says it’s just simple.

“I’m happy to help little kids,” she said. “It makes me feel good.”

The baby pantry is open each month from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursday. For information, visit Ripley Nazarene Mission Baby Pantry on Facebook or call the church at 304-372-5348.

The baby pantry also has clothing items to be used as needed.