Batesville food pantry set to expand after receiving major grant

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

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

"It's just remarkable how good this town is," Carolyn Wilsonsaid 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 toreceive food and clothing.

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

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

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

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

People can also pickup clothes, but the group is waiting to open its new warehouse to offer thatservice again. The sizable grant the group received makes the expansionpossible. Wilson says Help & Hope pinches pennies to operate each day andcould not have afforded an addition to the building without some otherassistance.

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

The facility will finally have enough space to organize thecluttered racks of clothing. A new loading dock will also make it easier tobring in more donations. The group even stretched the $190,000 grant to buy anew 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'llleave 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 saythe amount of giving has no limit.

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