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By Ashley Scoby, Intern
After Christmas shopping, donating groceries and “adopting” children’s school costs for families in the Hodgenville area, the Hodgenville United Methodist Church is going one step further in its quest to help struggling families during the economic downturn. A Health and Wellness Fair sponsored by the church will be held Aug. 1 for all families who participate in the church’s Hope Food Pantry.
About 100 families are regularly served by the pantry held at the Methodist church on the third Wednesday of every month from 5-to-6 p.m. These same families are usually the ones the church shops for as part of its “Christmas Angels” program, and they are the ones who are sometimes metaphorically adopted by church members wanting to pay for kids’ field trips, school pictures, etc.
It’s a relationship that has grown with time and one where communication is key. The church saw a need of the families’ that needed to be met and that’s what brought about the Health and Wellness Fair.
“We had people coming that were confused about their prescriptions, we had grandparents raising their grandchildren confused about if they could get free lunches at school or if they could apply for food stamps,” said Susan Phelps, chairperson of the Hope Food Pantry. “It’s all about helping them get a foot in the door and finding the name of someone who could help them.”
Organizations that will have booths at the fair include Nazareth Home Health Care, Hardin Memorial Hospital’s Wellness-on-Wheels unit (to provide free screenings), Allegro Assisted Living, Woodland Dialysis, LaRue County Public Library, the UK extension office, Family Resource Centers of LaRue County, HANDS, Lincoln Trail Health Department, Health South Rehab, Adult and Family Education and local pharmacies.
Participants of the fair will sign up for door prizes, including two $50 Pamida gift cards and $25 gas and grocery cards, at each booth. In addition, everyone attending will receive brown bag suppers of a grilled hot dog, chips, cookies and a drink. Church volunteers will also be handing out free bags of school supplies for elementary-age children. If families have middle and high school-aged students, the church will still look at supply lists and try to help, according to Phelps.
Much of the school supplies that will be given away can be purchased at low prices, according to Phelps and the Methodist church is continuing to accept supply donations.
“What do you spend $10 a week on that you could live without?” Phelps said. “What could you not do for a week that would allow kids to go to school and have what all the other kids have?”
United Methodist church members have grown accustomed to donating by now. To run the food pantry, about $900 a month must be spent – all donated by the congregation. The church usually buys food from Feeding America, purchases items from grocery stores and receives donations from places like Wal-Mart, Sam’s and Kroger. The LaRue County farmer’s market has also donated surplus crops in the past.
“It costs a lot of money,” Phelps said. “I buy three boxes of bananas each time and three years ago when we started this, that cost me $38. Now it’s over $60.”
No matter how much it may cost, the generosity of the church is priceless to the people helped.
“There was a guy that came and said he would mow the yard at the church to make up for what he’d gotten, but we just said, ‘No, that’s not what we’re all about,’” Phelps said.
What they are all about, however, is assisting in any possible way for the 100-plus families that make it to the Hope Food Pantry each month. With the Health and Wellness Fair, participants will be able to get screenings they wouldn’t normally be able to afford, get ideas about how to live healthy lifestyles, etc.
Just add it to the list of events that has built the relationship between Hodgenville United Methodist Church and 100 area families.
The fair will be held at the fellowship hall of HUMC (the church is located at the crossroads of Lincoln Parkway and Tonieville Road – look for the red roof) from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Aug. 1. If you have any questions, or are interested in donating school supplies, money or food to the church’s fund, contact Phelps at 358-9328.