Tom Shelton has been delivering food, clothing and the gospel to area families since April 2000.
He runs The Pantry and More, located at 1599 East Washington Street in Stephenville, strictly off donations. Despite the lack of federal funding, Shelton said his ministry has always been well supplied.
“I love my Jesus,” Shelton said. “My job is to get the word out and expose people to Jesus.”
Then, in September 2004, Shelton’s ministry began to grow.
“Some men came and said they were going to take some clothes and toys to Mexico,” Shelton said. “I said, ‘OK, I’ll box up 100 toys.’ They said they needed 1,000.”
Shelton got to work and set up donation boxes around the community to help make up the difference.
“Stephenville is a very giving community,” Shelton said. “When they came back the third week of November, we had 1,600 (toys).”
He added that about 900 more toys were collected before Christmas that year.
The men let Shelton tag along as a tourist when it came time to deliver the goods.
“We had a good time and I saw these children get packages of new clothing,” Shelton said. “These children - some of them have never had new clothes. Some of them have never had new shoes.”
Shelton was touched by the experience and was already planning for the next Christmas in August 2005.
“But I had an interruption and the Holy Spirit said, ‘Hey, what about me?’” Shelton said.
And he said he was moved to start collecting Bibles - 1,000 - for the families in Mexico. He put collection jugs around town to help raise money for Spanish Bibles. Shelton then contacted International Bibles to see about striking a deal.
A representative from the company agreed to give Shelton one free Bible for every two Bibles purchased. And when he had collected about half the needed money, the man called Shelton with some good news.
A man in Georgia who wanted to buy Spanish Bibles and donate them to a mission in Mexico had contacted the company. The company representative asked Shelton if he had the remainder of the money, which Shelton did not. The anonymous contributor, however, gave him the rest.
“We are very fortunate and blessed to take Bibles to Mexico,” Shelton said. “Every penny that I take from these jugs goes to buy Bibles.”
Shelton said only one out of 100,000 people in Mexico own a Bible and he has seen the recipients cling to the books as valued possessions.
And now he is preparing to head to Mexico and is once again calling on the community.
“We have 800 children to buy clothes for this year,” Shelton said. “The Bluff Dale Baptist Church adopted 100 of these children.”
Shelton said organizations, businesses, churches or individuals can sponsor a child or several children. And participants will receive a card with the name, picture, age and size of a child to help with shopping.
Shelton said each child needs items “from the shoes up.”
Shelton, who is fluent in Spanish, works in conjunction with Destellos De Amor, or Sparkles of Love, through the Cathedral de Alabanza - which translates to Praise Cathedral.
Examples of children in need and more information about the organization can be found on their Web site www.destellosdeamor.com.
Shelton can also be reached at (254) 592-9696.