Soup Kitchen Raises Money During the Holidays

December 1, 2004 – Posted at 4:19 p.m. CST

JONESBORO – Some say the holiday season is a time to think of those who are less fortunate. But worker at the Mission in Paragould do it everyday and they hope the public will think about them during the season of giving.

"I was drug addicted and had been sexually abused when I was a child and had been with only alcoholic men in my life, it all I ever knew," said Barbara Barron.

Barron's life is only one example of how people end up at the Outreach Mission in Paragould. Having hit rock bottom she had nowhere to go but up.

"If it hadn't been for this mission I would be dead," said Barron, who serves as the lead volunteer at the Mission.

She remembers first hand what it's like for the 38 homeless people who live here, eight of which are children.

"We're one in only three shelters in the state that house men women and in separate quarters," said Barron.

Grants support 20% of the $200,000 dollar operating costs for Mission. The rest comes through donations and through the bell.

"We're dependent upon those donations to keep our doors open," said Executive Director Jamie Collins.

Dependent now more than ever, ringing the bell is the only fundraiser the organization is allowed to have each year. In the past, the Mission was able to raise $10,000 to $12,000 dollars.

"Corporate Wal-Mart has since limited in amount of time volunteers are able to stand out front, and with that ring the bell profits were cut in half," said Collins, "Which makes us more dependent on the hearts of folks willing to give."

And it's not just giving change, it's giving someone a chance.

"I'm very grateful to the Mission, they saved my life," said Barron

The soup kitchen program at the mission serves almost 20,000 meals from January through October every year.