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[December 16, 2012]
Charities report increased need as Christmas approaches
Dec 16, 2012 (Mineral Wells Index - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Well into the holiday season, local charities are relying on donations from the public to assist a growing number of individuals in need.
Genie Quincy, director of the food pantry at First Christian Church, said volunteers have seen an increase in the number of clients and expects another spike this week.
"We are serving 600 families a month now with food," she said, noting the pantry has recently hosted two large holiday meals at the church.
Quincy said the food pantry will close for about two weeks through Christmas and New Year's because the food banks that supply it will not be open.
Because of that, she said, this week volunteers will serve a greater-than-usual number of clients.
"The week before Christmas, we're going to serve probably 200 to 300 families, so if anybody can bring us canned goods, that would be wonderful," she said.
She explained the pantry is in need of all varieties of canned items, noting donations can be made at First Christian Church or other locations in the community.
Metro and First Financial Bank currently have receptacles for can donations benefitting the pantry, she added.
Jim Rhodes, executive director and founder of New Haven Helping Hands, said the charity is in need of some specific supplies.
"It's about the same as every year," he said. "We're short on food and funds." New Haven is "the oldest and largest provider of food for the county," he explained, noting the food bank has been in continuous operation for 26 years and serves about "1,300 unduplicated people a month." As with the FCC food pantry, Rhodes said New Haven's biggest need is canned food, though he said monetary donations are also helpful.
"We have sources of food that we can purchase for 14 to 16 cents per pound," he said, explaining the average donor cannot purchase goods at such a low price.
Other needs, he said, pertain to the homeless shelter New Haven operates.
"We are the only intact family shelter between Abilene and Fort Worth," he said.
According to Rhodes, the shelter is in "constant need of bedding and laundry detergent. Anything that you have as a family, when a family comes in not working then we have to furnish it." Unfortunately, he said, some donors are more likely to give to a domestic abuse shelter than a homeless shelter, though he said New Haven works with those in need to help them become productive members of society.
New Haven "doesn't just do shelter," he said. "We work with Weatherford College and other places where we can do education. Job searches are mandatory, they have to want to work and go out and try to get a job, plus we do budgeting classes." He said anyone interested in donating to New Haven can call (940) 3255654.
The New Haven shelter's phone number is (940) 328-0910.
Tammy Lovell, organizer of First United Methodist Church's food pantry, said the charity is currently feeding families through the pantry and a program aimed at discreetly placing food items in the backpacks of local needy students.
"We're feeding 165 children a week on the Backpack Buddies program," she said. "We are looking for donations or someone who wants to sponsor a child." To support the program, Lovell said the food pantry is in need of cheese crackers, Pop Tarts, Vienna sausages, pudding, apple sauce and fruit cups, noting cash donations are also appreciated.
The traditional food bank feeds another 200 to 300 individuals each month, she explained, adding the church is asking for donations of peanut butter, rice, beans, canned meat, pancake mix, instant mashed potatoes and cereal.
Meals on Wheels of Palo Pinto County is once again promoting a holiday wish list for its clients.
Individuals have the opportunity to support the agency in several ways, including shopping for specific items and either delivering them directly to the recipient or dropping gifts off at Meals on Wheels.
The organization also accepts cash or gift cards from individuals who are unable to shop and donors can always contribute popular items such as house shoes, socks, toiletries, snacks, blankets, electric heaters, pajamas and gift wrapping supplies.
A copy of the latest holiday wish list is available online at mowppc.com or by visiting Titan Bank, Steele's and the Palo Pinto General Hospital gift shop.
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