CARBONDALE — Early autumn is a tough time for Good Samaritan House.
The nonprofit organization, which provides food and emergency shelter to the needy, tends to deplete its supply of canned and boxed food at this time of the year.
“Basically, around this time every year before the holidays, we always run low … as it gets closer and closer to Thanksgiving we usually find ourselves running pretty short on everything, and this year it was even worse because we hadn’t had any food drives lately,” said Aaron Barnett, food coordinator for Good Samaritan House.
On Tuesday, the organization’s soup kitchen had almost completely run out of food. The kitchen offers meals three times a day, seven days a week; it served about 3,500 meals in the last month, according to Barnett.
“I’ve got certain requirements that I have to meet as far as meals for people, and when we don’t have good, nutritious vegetables and things like that, it’s hard for me to do what I do. So we were in a pretty big bind,” Barnett said.
Not knowing what else to do, Barnett took a photo of the empty shelves and posted it to Facebook along with a plea for donations.
He said the response was better than he ever could have imagined. The post was shared over 200 times and people turned up to help almost immediately.
“Within the first 20 minutes, I had people showing up with carloads full of canned goods, and that continued throughout yesterday and all today. I think there are people driving down from St. Louis just to bring us some canned goods,” Barnett said.
E. Claire Salon, located on South University Avenue, coordinated a large donation effort. The hair salon gathered 350 canned goods and $250 in donations in 12 hours, and then matched the funds and contributed double the number of cans. Jen’s Joe, the coffee shop next door to the salon, also matched those canned donations. All told, the effort raised 1,400 canned goods and $500.
“It’s just pretty amazing, really,” Barnett said.
He said the shelves are now fully stocked and E. Claire is keeping the remainder of the cans in storage until supplies run low again.