Life has come full circle for Danny King.
He and his 12 siblings grew up on Hillsboro Street in Mount Olive. The family lost its father when King was 5 years old, and his mother scrapped and clawed to raise the large family.
Neighboring farmers constantly stopped by with boxes of cucumbers, collard greens, potatoes and other staples that allowed the family to keep food on the table.
“I’ve never forgotten how people embraced our family when I lost my father,” King said. “That taught me a level of discipline that if I ever got into [a] place where I could help people, I would do it.”
That act of kindness opened a road for King, who has made numerous stops along his map of life that have impacted young and old for nearly four decades.
Most notable is ADLA Inc.
King started the nonprofit organization in 2007. He’s created a food continuum that assists disadvantaged residents, senior citizens and families who struggle to provide for their families in Mount Olive and surrounding communities.
ADLA was especially critical during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Each Tuesday, a long procession of cars have lined up in front of Old Carver School on Breazeale Avenue. King and his countless volunteers fill either the back seats or trunks with dry goods, meats, canned vegetables, fruits and other items.
“I’ve been doing food programs since 2007 in Wayne County and I can honestly say, I don’t want to sound cocky, but if you combine all the soup kitchen and food pantries in Wayne County, this place here has the capacity to serve more people in one day than probably all of them combined due to the infrastructure of how it’s set up,” King said.
“We’re excited to do it.”
It’s a well-organized hub.
ADLA is a three-tier service provider — food pantry, soup kitchen and temporary food assistant program (TFAP) through the USDA; and its food pantry receives aid from the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, which is based out of Raleigh.
David Jackson from Jackson & Sons, Mt. Olive Pickle Plant and Southern Bank have made donations to ADLA. However, King said funding is minimal and he’s applied for grants since the onset of the virus in mid-March.
King also applauded the work of DJ Coles, the founder of 4-Day Movement. The organization helps the vulnerable population such as single-parent families and disadvantaged youth, and handles crisis management.
4-Day Movement delivers Food for Favors boxes to identified members of the elderly population throughout the county twice a week. Coles and United Way of Wayne County have worked together with local hotels to provide housing for families.
“Whenever we get an assignment, there is movement within four days,” Coles said. “It’s not by our hand, but a divineness to what we do. We are given direction and we will attach the need to a resource within four days or less.
“This food pantry … I thought this would be a great way for us to increase our capacity of serving. When COVID-19 hit, there were a lot of people compromised.”
King and Coles each admit there’s nothing glorifying about passing out food and making food boxes. It’s tiring, especially on the volunteer side. Neither seeks the spotlight; each feels blessed and wants his respective work to speak for itself.
“Poverty was always close to me,” King said. “You’re trained and groomed that you have to help each other. It’s been in my DNA all my life, to put it mildly. Too often when we see programs, a lot of people make it about themselves. I’m modest because I want my work to speak for itself and know that God is pleased with it.”