Community support: More area families seeking assistance from Good Shepherd
Good Shepherd Thrift Store and Food Bank has helped families in need for 27 years.
This holiday season is no different.
But the organization can’t function without assistance from generous donors.
Janet Stuke, food pantry coordinator, said Good Shepherd has requests for 86 Thanksgiving boxes and gift cards for families in need. That’s 10-family increase from a year ago.
Overall, demand from those in need continues to increase. Stuke said that during the last three years, the number of families Good Shepherd has helped has increased by about 200 each year.
That might be a family with an unexpected emergency or another with more extensive needs. But the bottom line still remains — the organization continues to need donations from area residents to assist a growing number of people in need, Stuke said.
Good Shepherd has an immediate need for canned vegetables and fruits, as well as canned meats.
The food pantry and thrift store is receiving a boost with Tonganoxie Mayor Jason Ward’s challenge for Tonganoxie Elementary School students.
Students started collecting canned goods Nov. 4. The class that had the most donated items through Tuesday will join Ward to light the Christmas tree Saturday in downtown Tonganoxie.
The class with the most food donations from Nov. 4-Dec. 6 will receive food as well. Ward will throw a pizza party for the winning class.
This is the second year of the mayor’s food drive.
“Good Shepherd said their pantry was overflowing with donations during last year’s challenge, which happened to be great timing to help families through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays,” Ward said. “I think the challenge is an opportunity for kids to learn about community and have fun doing it.”
Food drives such as the mayor’s challenge are what help to keep the food bank going.
“The community is wonderful,” Stuke said. “It’s through the shoppers and the donations that we’re able to do what we do.”
Shoppers at the thrift store can find plenty of bargains, according to Jean Pearson, a day manager at the store.
The 7,000-square-foot building — there’s a main level and basement — has plenty of quality items that people donate, Pearson said.
In addition to food, the thrift store offers financial assistance to families that qualify.
Families can receive food assistance once a month and monetary assistance once every six months.
Reductions in funds for the nation’s food stamp program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, went into effect at the beginning of the month. The reductions totaled $5 billion.
Stuke said she expects that to have an effect soon on food demands at Good Shepherd.
People who qualify for food assistance at Good Shepherd also can pick up toiletries, which also are donated to the organization. Stuke said the food pantry always welcomes those types of donations as well.
The food stamp reductions affect people of all ages, Stuke said, noting there are elderly residents on fixed incomes who also qualify.
Leavenworth County residents outside Leavenworth and Lansing and Jefferson County residents can pick up food once every two months, while Leavenworth and Lansing residents, who have various assistance agencies in their cities, qualify for food once a year from Good Shepherd.
Leavenworth County residents outside Lansing and Leavenworth, as well as McLouth residents, qualify for financial assistance once every six months. Lansing and Leavenworth residents can seek assistance once a year.
Stuke noted that local residents in need also can visit agencies in Lansing and Leavenworth for occasional assistance.
As residents continue to donate items to Good Shepherd, Pearson hopes folks also donate to the organization’s future.
Good Shepherd, which has a volunteer force of about 70 local residents, is starting a building campaign to fund a future home.
The organization currently has about $8,000 earmarked toward a future building. Though no decisions have been made on where that new home would be — or whether it would be an existing building — residents can make donations to the fund. An account has been set up at First State Bank and Trust.
The thrift store and food bank is open 9 a.m. to noon Mondays through Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays. It is closed on Thursdays and Sundays.
For more information about donating or how to qualify for assistance, call Good Shepherd at 913-845-3964.
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