OKC woman pays it forward by providing food to people in need

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - It's hard to believe that one of the most basic things in life – the need for nourishment – has come to this.

For years, a woman named Joanne Greeson has been filling that need from her spot inside the St. James Food Pantry. Well, actually, she just stepped outside, so it's gonna be hard to surprise her.

"We are just outside the food pantry, and we're kind of hunkered down behind our news vehicle, because she's outside."

It's almost impossible to hide a Channel Four SUV, a camera and three giddy people ready to surprise Joanne. But that's the situation Kathy, Tammy Brakebill of First Fidelity Bank and I are in at the moment.

"Kathy, on behalf of First Fidelity Bank, we would like to help you pay it forward, and we are just so appreciative of you nominating your friend for this wonderful honor,” Tammy said. “So on behalf of First Fidelity Bank, here is $400 for you to help pay it forward."

Kathy nominated Joanne, and this long line is why.

“Some of them come once a month. Some of them come a little more often than that especially the homeless community, because it may be their only meal of the day, and Joanne provides sandwiches and food that they can take with them, and that they don't have to have a residence to use,” Kathy said.

Joanne saw us outside, but we've got it covered.

"Joanne, they were going to do a bed bug story with a place down the street, but they changed their minds."

"Oh, no. Who was all in on this?"

"Do you even know why we're here?"

"No. Why are we here?"

"My name is Joleen Chaney. I'm with News 4, and we have a program called Pay It Forward, and you were nominated for all the work you do."

"On behalf of Pay It Forward and KFOR we want to present you with $400."

"I'm very grateful. Everybody works hard here. All these volunteers are awesome. They put in numerous hours almost five days a week. We all are grateful for what we do, and I thank you all because... oh Lord help me," she said.

And He does. With all the people waiting outside, it's easy to see why Joanne is here. But there's more that's unseen.

"Once you do it, it's that feeling you get when you help someone. It's an awesome feeling,” she said. “Like Jesus talking through you. He's right there with you."

And the people you're helping.

"It's giving people hope and understand that it is a place [where] they can come and get help when they really need it,” one food pantry patron said. "The elderly, they have two choices they can either eat or pay bills. What would we do? I'm in my early seventies, and I don't know what I'd do without them."

That's a tough choice nobody should have to make, but for Joanne, paying it forward is an easy one.

Pay It Forward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.

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