A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.
Like the snake devouring its own tail, the picture of philanthropy in the recession that began last year is a circular one of greater need ? by the unemployed, the non-profits who help the unemployed and the grant-makers who help the non-profits. More need, fewer dollars.
Helping Hand, for example, which feeds the hungry and provides emergency clothing and rent assistance from the old St. Bartholomew High School at 16th and Marshall, has seen a 5 to 7 percent rise in clients seeking food, but a 10 percent drop in cash with which to purchase it.
Helping Hand serves people like Virginia Collier, 51, a child care worker before she got laid off eight months ago. Collier is receiving an unemployment check, but with twin 7-year-old boys, she says, “Things are kind of tight.”
On Monday, Collier was in a line of people, each holding a number and seated along a narrow hallway, to get a turkey and Thanksgiving fixings. Every day Since Nov. 1, around 100 families have come to Helping Hand to get food.
“At first, I didn't feel too great about it,” Collier said about coming for free food. “I'm so used to helping others. It threw me for a loop.” Now, however, she says, “I know I really need the help.”
Since July, an average of 1,541 families ? 3,435 individuals ? a month have come to Helping Hand for food. The pantry, usually open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day, is having to close down around 11:30 a.m. because its daily food allotment is running out.
So who's helping Helping Hand?
Director Bruce Limozaine says the agency has been “blessed” in these tough times by generous gifts of canned fruits and vegetables, hot dog buns, loaves of bread, rice, potatoes and more, packed up and donated by supporting churches, schools and other organizations, mostly Catholic.
But cash donations ? which this year accounted for 40 percent of Helping Hand's budget for food ? are down, Limozaine said. Rice Depot, which donated more than a thousand turkeys to Helping Hand, came to the rescue. Limozaine couldn't say enough nice things about Rice Depot. “They are absolutely the best.”
Laura Rhea of Rice Depot says finandonations to the non-profit aren't down, but need has risen: Her agency's survey of Arkansas food pantries found a rise in the number of people asking for food of 32 percent over last year.
“The requests for food are incredibly higher … so what that means is that we're struggling right now to have enough food,” said Rhea, who is celebrating her 25th anniversary at Rice Depot.
But like most fund-raisers, Rhea is a glass-half-full type of person. She's optimistic (“taking a deep breath,” she says) her agency and others will find a way to handle the need. But the last six weeks of this year ? when the agency receives a significant percentage of its gifts ? will “determine how we're able to survive next year.”
Rice Depot is feeding 25,000 children with its Food for Kids program in the schools, just one of its projects to feed the hungry. A dollar donation provides a meal of, say, beans, fruit cup and a granola bar for a child. The program sends food in backpacks home with kids whose parents who, for one reason or another, won't go to a food pantry. This year, Rice Depot got a big lift from a celebrity ? Al Roker, whose “Lend A Hand” show visit brought in $600,000 worth of food and equipment to the program. But cash donations are needed.
Supreme Court? That idiot?
She has served the will of the majority of Arkansans. Your article is your opinion,…
Chastised for loving her state and country! Left will b left.