Mega Charity Dumps Bristol VA

by Lewis Loflin

Another Wall Street casualty: Bristol food distribution program ceases operation. Kingsway Charities of Bristol has closed its Lord's Storehouse, a food distribution program that for the past 10 years has passed along more than 12 million pounds of food annually to church pantries and nonprofit feeding agencies across the five-state region. Supported by a private endowment fund hit hard by the stock market decline, Kingsway shut down its food distribution operations Jan. 1 and began notifying the churches and nonprofit agencies it supports by telephone on Jan. 2...

Since beginning operations in 1998 through a private endowment established by the Gregory family, the Lord's Storehouse has provided between 12 million and 16 million pounds of food annually to churches and nonprofit agencies in Southwest Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, Western North Carolina and Southern West Virginia, or more food than the Second Harvest food banks of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia combined. (JCP)

That means an end to the Lord's Storehouse, a food donation program; the Widow's Mite Ministry, a service that provided for about 40 women in the area; and the Face of God, a ministry that provided everything from clothes to school supplies for local children. The charity also reduced its staff from 16 to six...The decision to ax three of its operations was a striking move for Kingsway - an organization that banked more than $1 billion in contributions between 2003 and 2006, and has been listed since 2007 as one of the nation's 200 largest charities by Last year, Kingsway received $122 million in contributions - at least a five-year low - and ended 2007 with close to $34 million in assets...

In 2007, Kingsway reported $1 million in expenses for the Face of God and $18.5 million for the Lord's Storehouse. The charity spent more than $100 million on its international medical relief program - or 84 percent of expenses that year, according to its tax returns. The Lord's Storehouse (has) helped feed more than 37,000 families every month in a five-state area; on its 2007 tax returns, the organization said it distributed 12.3 million pounds of food. Kingsway reported nearly $500,000 in postage and shipping for 2007. Refrigerating perishable items also took a heavy toll on the organization's energy consumption, generating electric bills as high as $10,000 a month...

The charity now will turn its exclusive focus on acquiring medical supplies and providing them to missionaries who work in developing countries. In 2007, Kingsway contributed medical supplies for 1,003 mission trips, serving nearly 700,000 people in Third World countries, the charity reported on its tax returns. Extracts from Johnson City Press and BHC January 6-7 2009.

Update 12 January: The Charity building suffered a switch box fire causing $25,000 in damage. They still rent some of their building to other groups.

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