Helping Hands Ministry reached a milestone last week that was both impressive and depressing. On Wednesday, the organization handed out its 1,000th box of food since January.
The ministry has never given out that many boxes in eight months before.
“I was so excited,” said ministry president Tammy Comfort. “We kept close count because we knew we were going to reach a first for the ministry. We have never given away that many boxes in just eight months.”
The number’s correlation to the need in the community adds sadness to the situation.
“That’s a lot more than we normally give,” said Comfort. “Last year, we gave away 536 boxes all year long. The number of requests for food keeps going up, which shows the need is extremely high in Warren County.”
Helping Hands Ministry is a nonprofit organization operated by volunteers who work through Second Harvest to purchase the food, which is paid for using community donations. One food distribution costs approximately $2,500.
“The boxes of food that we provide are not free,” said Comfort. “Yet, we haven’t had to turn anyone away. Not one person has been denied. If they ask for a box, we have been able to help.”
The ministry provides food to elderly, low income and working poor in Warren County. While no one has been turned away, the ministry targets those with the greatest need by using income guidelines set by Second Harvest to determine which individuals receive a box of food during distributions.
“It just breaks my heart to think anyone has to do without food,” said Comfort. “No one should ever go hungry. Every step we take is exhausting sometimes, but we keep going.”
The ministry that fills the need for food in the community has a need of its own. A larger space is being sought to use as headquarters to continue expanding. Currently, the ministry uses a small fellowship hall that is graciously given free of charge by a church on Harrison Ferry Road.
“We need a larger space to fit the amount of food we are trying to distribute, but we don’t have any money to pay for a place,” said Comfort. “If we had something in town, either an office space or commercial-type building that is sitting empty, that would be perfect.”
Along with giving the ministry more space, a place in town will remove a distribution problem. In order to prevent individuals from having to find transportation to Harrison Ferry to pick up their box, the ministry asks McMinnville businesses to use their parking lots to hold distribution days.
“Sometimes its difficult to find a place to hold distributions,” said Comfort. “Walmart has been very gracious to let us use their back parking lot. If we had a place in town, we could have people come to us to get their box. We could go from monthly distributions to weekly, if someone would love us enough to help us out.”
For more information about Helping Hands Ministry, how to register for a box of food, make a monetary donation, or give the ministry use of space, call 931-815-9070. The ministry works out of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church. Donations can be mailed to 8968 Harrison Ferry Road, McMinnville, TN 37110.