In its fifth offering, the Church of the Ascension’s Mardi Gras Benefit on Feb. 5 will continue to support the Episcopal congregation’s Outreach Ministry.Starting at 7 p.m., the 21-and-older event will be held at the Cartersville Country Club, 1310 Joe Frank Harris Parkway. The benefit will feature music, dancing, New Orleans-style food, and a live and silent auction.“The Mardi Gras benefit was started five years ago as a fundraiser to replace our Bane and Blessing event,” said Jeff Tindall, logistics coordinator for the Church of the Ascension’s Food Pantry. “It has always been an upbeat event with great food, music and fun. This year, the benefit is being sponsored by Coosa Valley Credit Union, the Falany Performing Arts Center at Reinhardt University and the Auto Parts Co.“The main purpose of the benefit is [to] fund our Outreach Ministry’s capital fund. Last year, we raised just over $9,000. This goes to support a number of ministries, including Backpack Buddies, Family Promise, Path to Shine and, of course, our Food Pantry.”With the event combining fun and philanthropy, Tindall said the event has continued to increase in attendance.“The event has been very well-attended and has grown every year,” he said. “I really think people love to have a good time and support a good cause. We also have an excellent auction and people walk away with some amazing deals every year. We actually reached capacity last year, so we have moved to the Cartersville Country Club this year to have some room to grow. We are expecting 150 [to] 200 attendees this year.”Operated by Church of the Ascension, the Food Pantry is open Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 to 11 a.m. With the growing demand for the Food Pantry’s services, Food Pantry Coordinator Tiffany Tindall is grateful for the community’s support of the Mardi Gras Benefit, which helps “supplement our operating budget and [allows] us to absorb these increases without having to turn anyone away.”In 2015, the outreach effort assisted 120 families per week — an increase of 70 families since 2012 — and distributed about 70,000 pounds of food. In the past year, the Food Pantry also is experiencing a 20 percent increase in recipients.“Our outreach program and our Food Pantry ministry in particular are not just a Church of the Ascension’s ministry, they are a community ministry,” Tiffany Tindall said. “We have many dedicated volunteers that are not members of our church, but recognize the importance of serving those in need or down on their luck in our community. Our Food Pantry is unique in that we are centrally located downtown, within walking distance of many patrons. This is important as many folks don’t have reliable transportation. We want to make sure we serve everyone who needs it with a friendly smile and the dignity and respect they deserve.“... Last year, we were able to purchase a new commercial freezer, which gave us ample room to store enough frozen hens for us to provide Thanksgiving meal supplies to 186 families,” she said, referring to the Mardi Gras Benefit’s 2015 proceeds. “All in all, we served over 4,300 pounds of Thanksgiving food supplies in one day alone.”She continued, “[The Mardi Gras Benefit] funds also go to support new ministries, such as our support for the Family Promise initiative as well as a new initiative called Path to Shine that Meghann Humphreys is spearheading to bring mentors to underserved, elementary-aged youth in our community. This year’s focus will be on getting the Path to Shine ministry off the ground and expanding our cold food storage to increase our food and nutritional diversity.”Tickets for the Mardi Gras Benefit will cost $50 at the door and $40 in advance at cartersvillemardigras.com or at the church office, 205 W. Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville, Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.For more information about the upcoming fundraiser, visit http://www.ascensioncartersville.org or call 770-382-2626.