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Helping Hands Ministry on the grow
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Helping Hands Ministry is attempting to grow in an effort to match the need for food in the community. A thrift shop has been established and community support is needed.
Helping Hands Ministry is a nonprofit organization that provides food to elderly, those with low income, and the working poor in Warren County. The ministry is operated by volunteers who work through Second Harvest to purchase food, which is paid for using community donations.
The organization holds monthly food distributions for individuals who apply for assistance and meet the income guidelines, as well as occasional mobile food giveaways that are open to everyone regardless of income.
During a mobile food giveaway Nov. 9, the food ran out.
“I’ve been doing this two years,” said ministry president Tammy Comfort. “We have never turned anyone away who needed food in that time. It broke my heart, but we had to turn 50 plus cars away this month.”
Comfort says she made a heartbreaking decision to focus on those who had waited in line for hours in hopes of receiving a box of food and turn away those just arriving.
“I know each of those cars had people in it who wanted food, but we had people already in line for two hours or more waiting,” she said. “When the food ran out, I told those that remained in line to come by the ministry and I would make sure they received a box of food.”
The organization has given out 2,984 boxes of food this year. Last year, the organization surpassed 1,000 boxes in August and thought that was an impressive milestone at the time.
Comfort says this month’s overwhelming attendance when boxes of food were offered could be related to government cuts.
“It could be because people’s food stamps were cut,” she said. “I just don’t know. What I do know is the demand is increasing and we are trying to meet that demand.”
While the food is being distributed free in the community, it is not free to the organization. One food distribution costs approximately $2,500. Community donations are accepted and sponsorships are greatly appreciated.
In the case of the last giveaway, United Healthcare offered a helping hand.
“United Healthcare paid for the distribution,” said Comfort. “We had more than 70 volunteers from Faulkner Springs Christian School, Walmart, Kids of the Community and people from the public to help pack and hand out the boxes.”
United Healthcare will also sponsor the ministry’s final mobile food giveaway for 2013. It will be held Dec. 20 at 539 Gillespie Road beginning at 9 a.m. The giveaway is open to anyone in need of food.
To provide even more food in the community during 2014, Helping Hands Ministry has established a thrift store called Heavenly Closet. All funds raised through sales go into the ministry.
Heavenly Closet is located in the same building as the ministry, at 216 E. Main Street, which is the old New York Grill building. Donated items are needed. The entrance is located at the rear of the building across from the Farmers Market. Store hours are Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For more information about Helping Hands Ministry, how to register for a box of food, or to make a monetary donation, call 931-507-9070 or visit www.helpinghandsministrytn.com.