Twice a week, Kris Dreesen drives in from Fair Grove to spend her mornings sorting food for families facing hunger in the Ozarks. Her story with Ozarks Food Harvest began nearly 10 years ago when she was looking for a place to volunteer regularly.
Hunger Action Month is always an exciting time at The Food Bank, and this year was no exception. Each September, we partner with local businesses and ask them to take action against hunger. Whether they choose to host food drives, donate funds or raise awareness through social media, our partners demonstrate passion for Ozarks Food Harvest’s mission of Transforming Hunger into Hope.
For more than 20 years, Carthage Crisis Center in Carthage, MO, has been helping needy and homeless individuals through difficult times. The center helps men, women and children and has the capacity to house about 45 individuals.
In 1996, members of Grace Episcopal Church committed to take action and help the homeless in southwest Missouri. After the church united forces with 16 other churches who were interested in making an impact, Carthage Crisis Center was born.
Jim Benton, executive director of the center and his wife Judy, who serves as the operations director, came to the crisis center four years ago. In the past, they served in similar programs in New Jersey, Florida and Springfield, MO.
“Our main form of assistance is to provide housing and accountability to those who stay with us,” Jim said. “In addition, we provide opportunities for job readiness, chores around the center and weekly group meetings to facilitate spiritual and personal growth.”
Currently, Carthage Crisis Center partners with Ozarks Food Harvest to receive food directly from local retail stores at no cost. A staff member picks up food from Walmart three days every week, and much of that food helps sustain the Center’s feeding programs.
“We serve daily meals to seniors during our lunchtime and we open our doors to anyone in need to join us for supper. We usually serve about 100 meals every day to our residents and those in need,” Jim said.
Carthage Crisis Center provides a safe environment for people to grow and change in. Jim believes that it’s up to each person that comes into the center to accept that gift and take advantage of it.
He recalls a story about James, a veteran who has been staying at the center for a few months:
“James was so desperate for a drink that he was willing to beg, borrow and steal. There was a liquor store not far from his apartment and he had been caught stealing many times from this place. But on one particular day, James was so desperate he walked down to the store and made a plan. He would grab the closest bottle he saw, break it open and begin chugging it down. James dashed into the store, grabbed a bottle of vodka, smashed the top off, and began guzzling the clear liquid to ease his pain. Before he was thrown out he cut his face severely with the glass shards as he was trying to drink. Now he was bleeding and only a little inebriated as he stumbled out of the store…that was five years ago. James has now been sober for more than five years. Today James is a free man! He is free from alcohol, free from the court’s system and free to live a new life!”
Ozarks Food Harvest is grateful for the life-changing work Carthage Crisis Center is doing in the Ozarks. To learn more about the center, visit carthagecrisiscenter.org.
Ozarks Food Harvest and iHeartMedia’s 21st annual Hungerthon wrapped up on Sept. 9, collecting $156,564 for the Weekend Backpack Program. The initiative provides more than 1,600 food-insecure children with food to take home every Friday throughout the entire school year. One in five children in southwest Missouri struggle with hunger, especially on the weekends when school meals aren’t available.
Every Monday and Thursday, Warren Satterfield drives into Springfield from his farm in Elkland to help sort and pack food for hungry families in the Ozarks.
As the only food pantry in Douglas County, Heart of the Hills in Ava serves more than 300 families a month. This agency—which is run primarily by volunteers—provides more than just food for people who are struggling to make ends meet. The agency also area assists residents with rent payments, insurance, and donations of hygiene items and clothing.
Madison Hays, a senior at Missouri State University, began volunteering with Ozarks Food Harvest to fulfill a scholarship obligation. But even after meeting the 120-hour requirement this summer, she kept coming back.
Race-goers showed up in a big way at Lucas Oil Speedway’s annual food drive at the end of July!
Hello from the O’Reilly Center for Hunger Relief!
Summertime is upon us. Children are enjoying long days spent playing baseball with their friends or swimming in the neighborhood pool. During this sunny, fun-filled season, parents try to keep their pantries and refrigerators stocked with extra meals and snacks for hungry kids.