Heavenly Smile brings hope to those in need

By DAISY WASHINGTON / Community Columnist

Today many Americans who have never needed help to feed their families are turning to charity as they struggle with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Millions of newly impoverished people are turning to the charitable organizations known as food banks. Food banks and pantries are seeing numbers and people they have never seen before amid unprecedented unemployment from the COVID-19 outbreak. The world’s first food bank was St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, Arizona, founded by grassroots activist and entrepreneur John van Hengel in 1967. Since then, many thousands have been set up all over the world.

Heavenly Smile, Inc. (H.S.), is one area food bank doing its part to help residents of Shelby County. The 501(c)3 faith-based non-profit organization assists local churches with benevolent outreaches with the emphasis on the community food pantry. Glenda B. Bradley co-founded Heavenly Smile, Inc. along with her daughter Kim Bradley. Glenda also serves on the board of Heavenly Smile. A Chelsea native, 73-year Glenda is married to Jerry, her spouse of 53 years and is mother of three children.

Established in 2006, the name of the operation was inspired by a poem entitled “Heavenly Smile” written by Glenda’s father, L.P. Bradberry, and his legacy of devotion to his community. A Birmingham newspaper carrier, he would leave small bags of food and personal items along with the newspapers he delivered to his customers.

In addition to being a board member, Glenda works a great deal behind the scenes. From creating art work on paper bags for jail holiday projects, to answering phones, no task is too menial for Glenda.

“I enjoy encouraging others,” she says. “Seeing people’s lives change is so gratifying. We’ve all been in a situation of brokenness of some sort. I am glad to be able to be a part of an effort that helps the community and can even be a bridge to connect it to other services.”

In addition to the community food pantry, HS operations include a jail ministry, financial classes and Christmas assistance. The pantry thrives by community involvement. Schools, churches and other local organizations donate seasonally. Through these are avenues HS speaks hope into the lives of individuals while providing opportunity to meet people’s physical and spiritual needs. Open Pantry Days target families who due to schools being closed in the summer. Residents can pick up a pre-packed bag of food. HS’s Christmas Project continues to enlarge year to year. It partners with local schools, churches and other non-profit organizations to sponsor families with holiday food boxes and gifts for their children.