The Care House, which provides free food, clothing and other items to those who qualify, is asking the public for donations as the busy holiday season approaches.
Director Earl Lewis said their client load has almost doubled in recent months, but donations have decreased, making for a hard balance.
“Where we used to average 16 to 18 families a day, we are now at 30 to 35 a day,” Lewis said. “Our financial support is also not as strong as it once was, which is understandable, but the combination of increased clients and the reduction in our support has made it difficult for quite a while now. We need all the support we can get to serve that many people.”
The nonprofit founded in 1986 operates from 9 a.m. until noon Monday through Thursday with the help of three staff members, six community volunteers and two volunteers from one of about 26 sponsoring churches.
Located on Broadway Avenue, Care House accepts monetary donations, as well as food, clothing and household items. The most in-demand food items include peanut butter, jelly, cornbread mix, macaroni and cheese, any canned vegetables and meats and fresh bread. Clean clothing in good condition is accepted, and there is a particular need for men’s clothing, Lewis said.
“We’re probably as low as we’ve been on supplies in the 16 years I’ve been here right now,” Lewis said. “We’ve got to get busy with some local food drives and things to get it filled back up. Literally, all we can get is what we need.”
A steady supply is all the more crucial as Thanksgiving and Christmas near. The organization is already collecting donations for its Christmas basket program, which supplies a ham or turkey and all the trimmings for a Christmas meal to more than 400 families annually. Registration to receive a basket is Nov. 18-21, and delivery will be Dec. 17.
“Around the first of October, we will send out letters to churches and other sponsoring organizations asking them to give certain items for the baskets,” Lewis said. “We always do that early so we’ll have time to get organized and ready.”
Care House clients are approved through an application process that considers income, family size and overall need, among other factors. They can receive food (a minimum of two grocery bags full) once a quarter and clothing once a month.
One-time emergency assistance is available for people who may not qualify for regular service, and early pickup is also offered to clients for extreme circumstances. In addition, Care House has a small amount of household items in case of disaster or loss, such as a house burning down.
Lewis said serving food to clients once every four months may not sound like much, “but if we let some people come as often as they would like or need to, we’d be out of business in about a month. There are other sources of help in town, and they have to work it out, but we do as much as we can.”
The Care House has always operated with a mission to fill a need in the community, and the public’s assistance helps them accomplish that goal, Lewis said.
“There’s always been need, but there’s been more in the last few years, and right now, than there has been in quite some time,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are not a lot of job opportunities right now, and people are hungry and need various things, and we feel like we’re fulfilling that need as part of God’s work.”
Contact Care House at 256-249-8289.
Contact Emily Adams at email@example.com.