Agency Spotlight: The Help Center
Since its opening in 1998, The Help Center has continuously grown. The pantry started in a church basement and now services about 950 families each month.
People who visit the pantry in Neosho come from all walks of life, according to Donna Wilson, the facility’s director.
“About 50 percent of our clients are between the ages of 19-59; 30 percent between the ages of 0-18; 20 percent are 60 or over,” she shared.
Donna has served as the pantry’s director since 2002. She has a heart for serving the hungry in Newton County.
“I enjoy working to help meet the needs of the community. I enjoy talking to each of the clients and hearing their stories of how they have improved their circumstances and that we were able to help in some sort of small way,” she said.
The Help Center began partnering with Ozarks Food Harvest in 1998. The pantry receives a delivery from The Food Bank once a week and also partners with Walmart, Sam’s Club and Aldi locations in Neosho.
Donna has seen the difference the pantry makes for the community. She quickly adapted to the COVID-19 crisis and continued to serve as many families as possible by altering the pantry’s daily operations. They’re practicing social distancing and serving clients through a drive-through method.
“In April, with the assistance of two local churches and Help Center volunteers, we were able to deliver approximately 70 Senior Food boxes and regular food boxes to senior citizens in our county. Many have a difficult time maneuvering without concerns of COVID-19, so when we were able to deliver to them, they were very thankful & appreciative!” she shared.
Donna says that the kindness of those who visit the pantry is truly inspiring. Clients want to take care of others when they have the chance.
“We have some that want to donate, even though they themselves are on a limited budget. They enjoy the feeling of giving back and we appreciate the donation regardless of size,” she said. “We have also had past clients come in and give a donation. They state we were such a help to them during low periods of their lives that now they want to pay it toward someone else that has found their selves in similar situations,” she said.
Volunteers keep The Help Center running. Many are over 60-years-old, and Donna knows they have the heart to serve the community in any way they can.
Donna is confident the pantry will continue to help the community through COVID-19 and beyond.
“We will continue to serve our community with food and a smile, words of encouragement and assistance wherever we can,” she said.
We are so grateful for the good work of The Help Center! To learn more about the pantry, click here.