Helping Hand receives truckload of food

Church donates over 40,000 lbs. of food

HEAVY LIFT – An oversized forklift with extension arm was used to unload the semi-truck full of donated food to Helping Hand of Humboldt.

by Danny Wade

A wonderful thing happened last week at a local non-profit. A truckload of food arrived as a church donation.

Thursday morning bright and early, the 18-wheeler had arrived overnight at Helping Hand of Humboldt and was ready to be unloaded. The truck reached its destination after traveling over 1,500 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah, the location of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Bishops’ Central Storehouse.

“This is the largest donation of supplies since I’ve been here,” said Helping Hand director Sharon Hartig. “This could last for seven or eight months.”

There was a hiccup in the delivery. It was expected to arrive on Wednesday. Everyone gathered at Helping Hand, ready to volunteer. But the truck did not arrive.

After 30 to 45 minutes, Bennie Denton, who directed and coordinated the project, got on the phone to track the location of the truck. After multiple phone calls, it was discovered the truck had broken down in Missouri and would not arrive that day. He was told it should arrive sometime that night and would be on site Thursday morning.

BY THE TRUCKLOAD – Over 40,000 lbs. of food arrived at Helping Hand last Thursday morning. The food was donated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and came from their storehouse in Salt Lake City, Utah. Several people showed up to assist unloading the 18-wheeler.

Thursday morning, everyone was back and the truck was there waiting. The project was a go.

As wonderful as the donation is, Hartig says there will always be a need for more donations. The 41,000 lbs. of food on 25 pallets in the truck are limited to certain food products. These will be paired with other foods to create a more rounded variety to help those in need.

“Our church has followed through in a big way on a promise we made to the Helping Hand of Humboldt earlier this year,” stated Branch President Tommy Hardin of the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located in Fruitland. “Helping Hand was chosen because of its efforts to help those in need both before and during the pandemic. It has excellent leadership and is a great blessing to our community. We’re following the example of the Savior who said feed the hungry and that’s something Helping Hand does so well for the area.”

A couple of days before the truckload of food arrived, another delivery was made from the church—three pallets loaded with household items such as detergents, toilet tissue, diapers, cleaning supplies and more.

Thursday’s bounty included canned and boxed foods such as chili, soups, vegetables, fruits, puddings, pastas, flour and powdered milk.

Tyson Foods partners with Helping Hand as well. Even though Tyson did not donate any of the food and supplies, they did send a dozen or more staffers to unload the truck and place it on shelves in the storage room. The storage room was packed to the gills after this huge donation.

LOADING SHELVES – Volunteers at Helping Hand and several from Tyson Foods help stack boxes and boxes of food on shelves in the storage room. It took everyone working together to unload the semi-truck and get everything stacked in place.

Hartig said most of the food will be given to those who qualify for Helping Hand’s assistance and have been screened. Helping Hand helps out close to 400 households with boxes of food each month. But, instead of the staff creating the boxes, families select which items they want. Items will have a limit as to how many can be placed in the box. Each box has enough food to last about four or more days depending on the number of people in the household.

“Clients get to choose what they want just like they were shopping at a grocery store,” Hartig said. “People pick and choose what they want.”

This also deters waste. For instance, if a staffer loads a box with a mixture of foods, there is a possibility the client may not like or can’t eat certain foods. Those items could potentially be thrown away. With the client selecting their favorites, they can plan their own meals for the week and not have extra food sitting around, going to waste.

Items in Helping Hand’s food pantry are also used in their own kitchen and served during lunch. Hartig said they serve lunch Tuesdays through Fridays and have around 40 people each day.

On Mondays, Helping Hand received a shipment from Second Harvest Food Bank in Nashville. These foods can be boxed or canned items, plus fresh fruits and veggies, depending on Second Harvest’s inventory.

When the truck rolls in on Mondays the kitchen manager inventories the shipment and plans the lunch menus for the week. Hartig said anyone can come in for a free lunch no matter the need. Some people come in just to get a delicious hot meal and often times leave a donation to Helping Hand. Hartig welcomes this.

As much as Hartig and the staff love donations from Second Harvest or those like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made, there is always a need for monetary donation to assist with the costs needed to operate.

“Monetary donations are always welcome and always needed,” Hartig noted.

In April, the church contributed food valued at $20,000, along with a promise to do more. The three pallets of household supplies, added to the truckload of food valued at $45,000, the church has given a total of $73,500 in food for Gibson County charities in 2020.

“Over the past four months, while 50 million Americans filed new jobless claims, trucks have crisscrossed the United State carrying hundreds of thousands of pounds of food each week from Latter-day Saints storehouses to a vast array of organizations feeding the needy,” Hardin stated about the church’s outreach. “All this food comes from contributions from members of the church. It was paid for by church members through voluntary contributions of their time and money.”

“The local unit of The Church of Jesus Christ will continue to partner with Helping Hand of Humboldt with a goal to provide relief for the community,” said Hardin.

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