Batesville food pantry set to expand after receiving major grant - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Batesville food pantry set to expand after receiving major grant

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Area food pantries have seen the effects of the economy firsthand, as many are unable to meet the growing need for their services. One Region 8 organization, however, is expanding to assist even more people.

Batesville Help & Hope has dealt with tight quarters for a number of years, but the food pantry received almost $200,000 recently to add onto its facilities. Volunteers say the project will allow them to better serve the thousands in need.

"It's just remarkable how good this town is," Carolyn Wilson said about Batesville, a place she's called home for 17 years.

Wilson has been impressed by the community's ability to give, even as record numbers of people line up outside Help & Hope's door to receive food and clothing.

"We just don't know how fortunate we are," Wilson noted. "My husband always says, if I was a millionaire, I would be broke because I would give it back."

Wilson has volunteered as food coordinator at the pantry since she moved to Batesville, and she has no plans to give up the rewarding work anytime soon.

"I will as long as I can walk," she said, adding, "and then they'll probably give me a wheelchair."

Batesville Help & Hope provides boxes of food to more than 1,200 families each month. The United Way of Independence County helps fund the program, but donations contribute to purchasing food.

 People can also pick up clothes, but the group is waiting to open its new warehouse to offer that service again. The sizable grant the group received makes the expansion possible. Wilson says Help & Hope pinches pennies to operate each day and could not have afforded an addition to the building without some other assistance.

"Overall, it gives us more room for the food so that mean it's going to be able to bring in a lot more food now and be able to help a lot more families than we already do," volunteer Allen Croy said.

The facility will finally have enough space to organize the cluttered racks of clothing. A new loading dock will also make it easier to bring in more donations. The group even stretched the $190,000 grant to buy a new freezer.

Volunteers say the new features will enhance the facility, so they can prolong their dedication to helping families in need.

"They may come in with a frown," Wilson said, "but they'll leave with a smile."

The new warehouse will open in the next few weeks. Volunteers are putting out the call for more donations and volunteers. They say the amount of giving has no limit.

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