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“For our last distribution day, June 24, we had 44 families show up. That’s up significantly,” said Pastor Fred Kelly of the Fleming Baptist Church where the Harvesters food is distributed for Ray County.
“We usually serve 63 families a month, over two distributions,” said Janice Haynes, director. “To have 44 families at one distribution shows the need is increasing.”
“Those 44 families represented over 140 people,” Kelly added. “We also had a family from Rayville call, needing food badly.”
Just nine months ago, Fleming Baptist Church became an agency for Harvesters food, available to Richmond, Fleming, Camden and Orrick families. They have recently added residents of Henrietta and Rayville, and hope to add Hardin soon. There is no cost for the food, but they do require recipients to provide proof of residence and how many are in the family.
“Since last October, when we started this, we have distributed 25,000 lbs of food,” said Kelly. “A lot of these families have their children moving back home, with their children, because they have lost their jobs. We’re giving the equivalent of $75-$100 worth of food to help these families.”
“We have all types of people coming in. Some of them are so embarrassed, and say they hope this is the only time they have to do this. Others depend on it to make their money stretch farther. I’ve had quite a few elderly, and a couple of families with 12 or more children. Some families we see over and over. Some are looking for jobs, don’t have a job or have their children moving back home with their families,” said Haynes.
Donations are always appreciated. Kelly said the Pasta Company in Excelsior Springs is donating 700 lbs of pasta and they are receiving donations on a regular basis from Kentucky.
“We do have a person in Kentucky that is helping. His father, Dan Bengston, was a minister here who passed away this past winter. His father read about [our church’s association with Harvesters], and wanted it to be his memorial and it’s been a big help. I don’t know if we could’ve kept all this up without it,” said Haynes.
“Some of our church members give money every month. The church was giving $200 a month before, but we’re struggling too,” Haynes continued. “I wish people in town and the different organizations would get involved and make a donation.”
“We had an individual in the area here that contributed significantly about a month ago when they donated $500. That money goes a long way with Harvesters. They’ve lowered the cost of purchasing food from 16-cents a pound to 10-cents a pound. A dollar goes a long way with Harvesters,” Kelly said. “Two weeks ago, we bought 700 pounds of meat, and now we’ve found a way to get more meat items. Eventually, we hope to be open to all of Ray County.”
“We would like to have someone that has a truck volunteer, so we could pick up more food. Right now we have one man that does that. I have no idea where we’d put it, but we could also use money donations and volunteers to help distribute the food,” said Haynes. “School is out right now and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is helping distribute. They have some older boys that have made a big difference, by helping the people out to the car with their food. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of the building. We have steps and aren’t handicap accessible.”
According to Haynes, statistics on Harvesters’ web site indicate 43 percent of the food recipients are children and seven percent are senior citizens.
The next distribution day is Wednesday, July 15, from 5:30 – 7 p.m.
“We encourage everyone to bring their own containers,” said Kelly. “Much of the food comes in bulk and you’ll need something to carry it in, and we’re out of boxes.”
You can make a donation to Harvesters to help people in Ray County by sending money to Janice Haynes, 903 E. Main, Richmond, Mo., 64085 or Fleming Baptist Church, c/o Delores Creason, 37212 Hwy T, Orrick, Mo., 64077.