Tag Archives: Helpline House

Helpline House: How best to help with food shortage

(Volunteer Reed Thomas, 14, stocks Mac & Cheese at Helpline House food bank last week).

Food banks across the county are struggling with high demand and low donations this summer, as we reported Wednesday.

Since the story ran we’ve received a few inquiries from readers asking how they can help, including an email this morning from local Les Schwab manager Brett Clark. Donna McKinney of Helpline House responded with some tips:

Thanks for your very prompt response to the article in the paper!  We appreciate donations of just about any foods, but there are certain items that we are especially low on and/or are distributed so fast that we cannot keep them in stock.  At this time, this is the list:

— Canned beans for cooking

— Cereals

— Assorted pasta

Continue reading

Reviving “the center for all things children”

A group of moms in the island’s KidsUp! group are trying to rally support to help bring back a popular nonprofit center for kids and parents.

The old Parent Child Center boasted drop-in family counseling, an indoor play area, a parenting library and a place for moms to hang out, compare notes, tell war stories and sip coffee.

A parent fair is taking place Saturday to raise money and draw in more volunteers for the effort. It’s 10 to 4 p.m. at Woodward Middle School. See below for more info.

While rebuilding the PCC is tough enough on its own, keeping it filled with supportive moms and kids may also be a challenge. KidsUp! had been working under the assumption that as many as 400 families visited the PCC each month. This week, they found that the PCC drew 400 visits a month rather than families. It’s likely that many visits were from repeat users.

Adding to the cloudy forecast is Helpline House, the PCC’s former financial backer. Helpline records show that only about 30 families a month were visiting PCC before it closed two years ago, and most families stopped by only twice a month. KidsUp! isn’t sure Helpline’s numbers are solid, and Helpline is skeptical of the KidsUp! estimates.

Turnout at the parent fair could be an indicator of the current level of interest for a new PCC. KidsUp! is trying to raise up to $100,000 to support the new PCC. Read about their effort and about what the old PCC meant to the moms who used it here.

These days, even island Realtors eat at Helpline

I know from childhood experience that food banks give away a lot of 10-lb. blocks of waxy government cheese, canned pumpkin (year-round) and canned water chestnuts (try that combo, Iron Chef).

But not at Helpline House. This island institution, which is celebrating its 40th year of service, is unlike any food bank I’ve ever visited.

For one thing, people smile. Clients and volunteers alike. The place is nice too. More like a house than a bunker. People actually hang out at Helpline. Clients and volunteers were chatting on the spacious porch, on the lawn, on the the couch and at the coffee table.

And the food’s pretty good. Here’s a sample of what was on the menu last week: fresh (not powdered!) milk, fresh eggs, organic tomato soup, Tuscan-style rice, sausage gumbo and fresh pears.

The food’s moving off Helpline’s shelves faster than ever. November was a record-breaking month, as new classes of clients – professionals, business owners, even a real estate agent – find themselves financially crippled and in need of a helping hand. But enough intro. On to the story….

Continue reading

Generosity almost a mile long

The procession of cheering, sign-waving kids stretched almost the entire mile separating Ordway Elementary School from the Helpline House food bank.

Snaking along Madison Avenue, the students beat on drums, smiled at motorists and lugged backpacks full of donated food.

“This feels good because I know it will make other people happy for Thanksgiving,” said third-grader Ellie Devries as she hauled cans of cranberry sauce, olives and soup along with about 400 other students from every Ordway classroom.

Continue reading