CARBONDALE — It is the time of year when many people become charitably-inclined. Donations are made, volunteer hours are filled.

And local service agencies say they will take all the help they can get, but it would be good if this mindset lasted all year.

John Smith is the executive director for the Egyptian Area Agency on Aging. His organization helps coordinate services for seniors, including a meal delivery program. He said on one hand, he doesn’t want to ask too much of those who offer their time, but said there are services that need more consistent help.

“The problem is finding enough people to fill those gaps,” he said, adding that any little bit helps, even just two months out of the year, but in order to make communities stronger and better places, a more consistent year-long stream is preferable. “We think volunteers in our local communities can do that.

"Any amount of time that is volunteers if helpful, particularly if we can match up someone’s skills with a need in the community."

Henry Long, executive director for Senior Adult Services in Carbondale, agreed. He said even just once a week can make a difference.

Long said there are more ways to help than making a large time commitment, even regular monetary donations make a difference.

Long said his organization is actually not in need of much volunteer help, but said without the volunteers they do have — he said there are more than 100 regulars on their list — many of the services they offer would not look the same, if they would be offered at all.

“We have limited resources and in order to supply the number of meals and service the number of clients we do it would be impossible,” Long said.

Delores Penn is a licensed cook and congregant at Bethel AME Church in Carbondale. She helps organize the church’s Feed My Sheep delivered meals program. She said they serve about 40 people a day, five days a week, not including their onsite food program at the Church — and are often looking for help. Sometimes help falls through, and having a deeper bench of helpers would make it easier to fill these gaps.

Penn said it warms her heart knowing the good the program she helps with has such a direct impact.

“It feels good to be able to know that they are at least getting on good meal a day,” Penn said, noting that she's not sure some would eat well without their meals.

Pastor Ronald R. Chambers also helps oversee the program, which is going on 15 years old. He echoed Long in that were it not for the help from the public, his ministry wouldn’t be possible.

“Thank God for the community. Thank God for other churches and community organizations that has basically bought in to what we are trying to do in the community,” he said.

As to the holiday-giving effect, Chambers said he thinks its short-sighted and doesn’t always address the entire problem.

“I can help you on Christmas. I can help you on Thanksgiving. I can help you on Easter. But what happens through the year?” he said.

He was reminded that the Bible teaches that there will never be a shortage of need — there is always a way to help.

“Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with you,’” Chambers said.


On Twitter: @ismithreports



Isaac Smith is a reporter covering Franklin, Perry and Saline counties.

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