Community giving encouraged in new year
Mills: ‘We will need more support going into 2021’
A heartwarming outpouring of help flooded the community during the holiday season, as the Cassville Community Food Pantry gave out nearly 350 boxes of food Dec. 22-23, and the Barry County Neighborhood Center helped more than 300 children with Share Your Christmas.
However, just because the holiday season is over, the need in the community does not go away.
Gail Reed, Barry County Neighborhood Center supervisor, said there is still plenty the public can do going into the new year.
“The Neighborhood Center is still here and still helping,” she said. “We still have the clothing room, and the 360 stuff from Walmart, and we are still helping with energy assistance applications as well.”
Options for help in the community include:
• Donating monetarily to the emergency fund — this helps to buy prescriptions, provide gas money and help with small family emergencies
• The People’s Pantry, located at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, needs to be continuously refilled
• Food and cash donations are always needed
“The People’s Pantry is something we will focus on in the new year,” Reed said. “We are looking to expand it and put in another one.”
Currently, the pantry set up at the ReStore needs to be stocked every day.
“We are unsure of the new location at this time,” she said. “We may even put it in another town.”
Additionally, the diaper drive is still in full swing.
“Thanks to Golightly’s Ink, we had a ton of diapers dropped off,” she said. “We still have plenty from size newborn to size six, and pull-ups, but always need more.”
Reed said with the year being so different with COVID-19 affecting nearly everything, The Neighborhood Center has still managed to continue.
“We are hopefully still making a difference,” she said. “We were able to do the Back to School Fair. While it looked different, it still helped.
“The community’s support and response to the needs has been amazing. We all appreciate the way the community has stepped up in this strange time.”
The clothing room still helps every Tuesday and Thursday, and a coat drive is now available to the public.
Janet Mills, Cassville Food Pantry director, said while looking into 2021, people will unfortunately still be dealing with the consequences of the pandemic in terms of resources.
“We have seen a 30-40 percent increase in the volume of people looking for assistance,” she said. “We feel that will be ongoing. Going forward, we will continue to need resources to help with food assistance.”
The Cassville Community Food Pantry hopes to see a continued support and partnership from the community.
“We need to keep a mindfulness of supporting the pantry, as well as other agencies year-round,” she said. “We get a lot of help around the holiday season, but our mission is to be a place where the hungry will not be forgotten. We want to remember them all 12 months of the year.”
Mills said many of the basic needs, like food, are a necessity and are primal, and the Cassville Community Food Pantry aims to meet those needs.
“We continue to need prayers, donations and thoughts to remember those in need,” she said. “We want people to know we love them and to encourage them and help them survive.”
The Cassville Community Food Pantry programs are monthly, but the demand has gone up.
“Right now, people need to spend money on utilities and other things during the winter months,” she said. “So, the money for other needs runs out.”
Mills said the services offered are not amping up, but the demand for those services are.
“So many people are coming to food pantries that have never needed them before,” she said. “We want to have enough for everyone. We never want to have to turn someone away. We will need more support going into 2021.”
Mills said during the Christmas season, there is a large focus to help neighbors.
“We want to expand that cultural focus and partnership year-round,” she said. “If people volunteer, they see and experience the needs. It brings that awareness which matures and grows.”
The Cassville Community Food Pantry is thankful to see members of the Cassville FFA volunteering.
“It is so rewarding to see the new generations offer that service to their communities,” she said. “This increases the chance of that awareness growing and expanding in them as they grow up. Educating and including our youth in these programs is key to their long term success.”
People may reach the Barry County Neighborhood Center at 417-847-2140, and the Cassville Community Food Pantry at 417-847-7871.