Princeton's Christ Tabernacle Church is challenging community members to collect food in December to donate to the church's food pantry, which addresses ongoing community needs.

Food pantry director Missie Gill said she encourages the community to get involved in the challenge.

"Our need is growing which means we need more supplies like dried and canned goods," Gill said. "I've been doing this for three years and the numbers have just grown."

She said it's a household challenge. Families are encouraged to place a box in their kitchen and follow along with the food calendar the church created to place a certain food in the box each day.

"Once a month we coordinate with Feed America and we do a mass distribution like this," Gill said. "We usually get around 30,000 pounds of food and we distribute it to approximately 250 to 300 families in a day's time."

The pantry's normal hours are noon to 2 p.m. Mondays and Fridays.

"In Caldwell County we've fed approximately 600 families this year within the regular pantry hours," Gill said.

She said the church has a friendship contract with Walmart that allows members to pick up damaged goods weekly for the pantry. Donations from the community also help.

"All of this allows us to keep our doors open," Gill said. "We're doing this challenge now to stock up the pantry for the community."

"We see a lot of people that can't even pay their rent so they're having to find other resources for food and grandparents that are raising their grandchildren use this as a resource."

She said the church uses the food pantry as an extension of its ministerial work.

"We've seen lives changed," Gill said. "They know that walking with God means He's always with them."

"People don't just come to the pantry for a freebie -- they come because they're in need."

When the church first began the food pantry, it started in a small trailer.

"We've now moved into our Life Center and we (use) the facility as a whole for the mass distribution," Gill said.

"We used to do it out in the cold or heat but now we have heating and air and we're blessed for that."

She said the church wasn't expecting the pantry to turn into what it has.

"We didn't realize the need was as large as it was," Gill said. "When you start crunching numbers and see the number of households we're helping in Caldwell County, it's great."

The church has donated 207,382 pounds of food from the monthly distribution and the weekly pantry since it began.

"We always welcome volunteers," Gill said. "We welcome people to come and see it because it blows people's minds."

"The amount of food and love that's put into this organization is truly heartwarming."

Those interested in joining the challenge can pick up a calendar at WPKY, West Market or Cole Lumber. Participants can drop their box of donated goods off Jan. 3 and 6 at the church, 1839 U.S. Hwy 62 W.