The Transylvania Times -

Pack The Pantry Food Drive Is Saturday – Brevard NC

 

Carolyn Mills and Wilda Strigo, part of Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian Church's volunteer team, collected donations at BiLo in last June's food drive. Pack The Pantry sponsors and Sharing House are hoping for a record collection this Saturday. (Photo by Bill Harrah)

This coming Saturday the Pisgah Forest Rotary, WSQL and Transylvania Times are sounding the call for everyone to help Pack The Pantry for Sharing House.

Volunteers will be on hand at many of the local grocery stores to provide shopping lists and accept your donations. You also are welcome to drive over to the courthouse gazebo to deliver your gifts and catch a glimpse of the action.

Our monthly "House-holds Served" graph in The Transylvania Times shows that more local families than ever are turning to Sharing House for help. While we are grateful to be able to render assistance, this isn't good news because it means too many of our neighbors are in trouble.

We see an average of 43 new families every month asking food, clothing and help with utilities or rent to stave off disconnections and evictions.

Through September our volunteers provided nearly 16,700 individual services to just over 12,000 persons in need.

•Roughly 2,400 request-ed food; we shared 91,530 meals. Right now, just a few days ahead of the twice-a-year Pack The Pan-try food drive, our shelves are alarmingly bare. Food donations tend to slow down in fall, forcing us to spend more of our precious cash reserves on food from MANNA and local grocery stores.

•About 5,700 received clothing; we shared up to 20 items (shirts, pants, shoes, baby clothes, etc.) per visit. Warm clothes and winter coats now are in demand.

•846 got assistance so far this year with heating & cooling bills, and 67 got financial help to avoid eviction.

•Just shy of 600 received household items like bed sheets & blankets, pots & pans, tents & camping supplies, silverware & dishes, and fans & space heaters. These items are gladly shared when we have them. Right now, with chilly nights warning of winter, warm blankets and comforters are in great demand.

•We provided 1,177 hot showers to folks living in forest camps or their cars.

All of this is possible because of you. You donate everything we share. Our resources come from individuals and businesses ($501,000 in 2014), churches ($130,524), and almost $1 million-worth of donated services from volunteers, local professionals and business owners.

Those are the numbers, anyway. Here is a sample of what they mean.

•A kindergarten student, abandoned by her druggie mom, lives with her 20-year-old step-sister, who needed our help paying for after school daycare, clothing and shoes.

•A family, whose home burned down, got clothing for three children.

•A single mom needed school supplies for her three girls after her hours were cut back to part time.

•A young woman who lives in her car needed a blanket.

•A homeless man came to Sharing House for a hot shower and clean clothes. "I usually jump into the French Broad or I find a waterfall," he told a volunteer, "but hot water is really, really nice!"

•A man felt ashamed accepting food for his family. A pantry worker told him: "this is a hand up, not a hand out."

•A woman on disability lives in a forest camp with her adolescent son. This was her first visit to Sharing House, and she was reluctant to accept the food and referrals we offered, but still needed cookware, a can opener, warm clothes and ground cover for her tent.

•A couple in their 50s were just making it on their own when three adult kids moved back home. One was a drug abuser with two special needs infants. Sharing House provided food, clothing and referrals to other social services they needed.

Our clients are mainly people on fixed incomes that can't abide budget-busting shocks, single moms who work at part time jobs, and people living on the economic edge running into unexpected emergencies. Almost all of the first-timers share one overriding trait: they are deeply embarrassed. Our volunteers do their best to make them welcome and help them get past whatever crisis they are dealing with.

We really need your help. Pantry supplies are low, and we're spending money that will be needed for heating assistance to replace food that normally is brought to our back door a bag or two at a time.

Thanks for reading, and thanks, too, for your support! Without you, we have nothing to share.

(Bill Harrah is a Sharing House volunteer.)

 
 

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