Tammy Comfort got her start helping people when a friend suffered an injury and had to miss time from work. Tammy scavenged her own kitchen cabinets to collect food for her friend’s family during their time of need.
More than a decade later, she hasn’t stopped.
Like a never-ending Santa, Tammy cherishes the joy of giving every week of the year. Her humanitarian organization, Helping Hands Ministry, drips with love and a willingness to help others.
There’s a soup kitchen twice a week that offers free meals to anyone who walks through the door. There are Bingo games that provide household essentials like shampoo and toilet paper as prizes. There’s even a shoe collection that provides footwear to Third World counties where people are still forced to walk barefoot.
“If we didn’t do this, a lot of people would have to do without,” said Tammy, who deflects personal credit and praises her small army of volunteers. “Being able to give out food at Christmastime is really a blessing.”
Helping Hands Ministry is approaching five years at its Main Street location after being founded by Comfort in 2006. One of the nonprofit’s main functions is providing food, which it does twice a week with a soup kitchen that opens at 11:30 a.m. on Mondays and Fridays.
“I had a lady tell me she gets two good meals a week and they are the two meals she eats with us,” said Tammy, president of Helping Hands.
"Soup kitchen" is hardly an apt description as the menu last Monday featured lasagna, chicken, corn, and cake. The free meals have been offered for three years and Janette Martin has been a volunteer cook since week two.
“Tammy did it herself that first week and knew she needed some help,” said Martin. “She said ‘God will send me somebody’ and she started looking through her applications and I had applied.”
Since many soup kitchen visitors struggle with mobility, the food is delivered to their table. Kerry Mullican is one of the many volunteer servers.
“It makes me feel so good to be able to come in here and smile and hopefully put a smile on their face too,” said Mullican.
The free soup kitchen is open to anyone in need of a hot meal. There are no income stipulations.
Helping Hands Ministry also offers food trucks through Second Harvest Food Bank twice a month, regardless of income. The free food trucks are available the second Tuesday and third Wednesday of every month.
“The president of the United States could pull up and we’d give him some groceries,” said Comfort.
A sprawling thrift store operates in the back of the soup kitchen and is open on Fridays and Saturdays. The thrift store entrance is accessible from the Farmers Market parking lot.
“We make sure to only sell quality clothing, not stuff that’s torn or has stains,” said Helping Hands vice president Dennis Hampton. “If I wouldn’t want to wear it, I’m not going to put it out there for somebody else to wear it.”
For more information on Helping Hands Ministry, the organization can be reached at 507-9070.