Licking United Community Help Center


Photo by Christy Porter
Volunteers of all ages help lighten the load for everyone.
By Christy Porter
Managing Editor

The Licking United Community Help Center is literally community help for those who need it, when they need it. Thanks to the many volunteers who serve in different capacities, sometimes several, and the generous donations by the community, needed items for some are supplied by others.
The center was originally located at a feed store on Cedar Street which was owned by Wayne and Ruth Williams, who allowed its operation with no charge for rent for many years. The new facility on Park Street was completed approximately nine years ago.
According to Donnetta James, Director, initially 40 families a month were helped with food provisions; that number has since grown to include 140 families, which does not include emergency food provisions. They also deliver food bags to the elderly if needed, which includes nine households at this time. Food distribution to recipients is on the first Monday of the month, following the first Friday of the month when the food is delivered from Ozarks Food Harvest Bank. Food provision is the main means of support disbursed at the center. Government guidelines for receiving the food assistance are followed as the government also nominally contributes.
Photo by Christy Porter
On food distribution day everyone moves at quick clip.

The Ozarks Food Harvest Bank, at 12-cents per pound, supplies the majority of food. While food donations are appreciated, monetary donations are greatly appreciated as they can purchase so much more through the Ozarks Food Harvest Bank. In example if a 15-ounce canned vegetable costs $1, through the food bank they can purchase approximately eight cans for that same dollar. The 12-cent per pound is not limited to only canned goods but to any food product including meat and dairy.
The Knights of Columbus donated $534 and 200 pounds of food to the center at Christmas. They are holding another food drive, 40 cans for 40 days of Lent; consider donating to this great cause either financially or in canned goods.
The on-site Thrift Store is the main means of support for the food distribution and the other programs to which the community center contributes. The Thrift Store is made possible only with item donations from the community and moderate donations from two local churches, First Baptist Church and Rock Springs Baptist, who contribute financially on a monthly basis. Others in the community also give nominal financial support.
Photo by Christy Porter
The Thrift Store stays busy with friendly volunteer staff and customers.
“We want to give back to the community, because without the community donations we wouldn’t have anything to sell to keep the center going,” says James.
The thrift store clientele is different from the food provisions clientele and tends to be repeat business. The thrift store as a rule has quality donations to sell. Many will shop for themselves, utilizing the modest prices and reusing what others no longer need. There are also those who shop for others, such as pastors and community support groups. If there is a local residential fire, the family is allowed to shop at the center at no cost to replace items lost in the disaster.
The Licking United Community Help Center contributes back to the community in multiple ways outside of the facility itself. Christmas in Our Hometown, organized by Bonnie Hall, benefits from the center and gives in-need families, and especially the children, Christmas.
This year the Community Help Center sponsored the nine girls who will be attending the American Legion State event, ensuring that all candidates got to attend the program.
They also donate hygiene kits to the school, which include items such as soap, shampoo and other necessities for students who may need them.
A scholarship fund was instituted last year, and in May, 2018, the first $2,000 scholarship was awarded. They plan on continuing the scholarship again this year.
Donations have been given to the Licking R-VIII Booster Club to help toward the purchase of school sports uniforms.
“We see the need in the community, and there are a lot of kids that have needs; we’re just bringing help in fulfilling the need,” says James.
Volunteers, including youth volunteers, are always welcome and appreciated. The more hands there are, the lighter the load for all; it’s a great learning experience and it builds community while helping the community.
Proficient, efficient organization, generous donations and willing volunteers allow The Licking United Community Help Center to help the Licking community in many ways, and the center is very thankful for all the support.

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