Founder and Executive Director Jim Rhodes said he has already seen the effects of the changes among his clientele. He mention one woman with five children whose aid has decreased from $600 to around $275.
“There’s going to be a drastic need for meeting the extra demand,” he said. “Last week, I had 10 new families apply for food. We just want people to be aware of the services offered in case they had not known.”
After 28 years of operation, Rhodes said Helping Hands is the oldest continually operating food bank in Palo Pinto County. Over that time, Rhodes said they have served 6,241 families (about 18,000 people) with an average this year of about 1,200 people per month. Currently, Rhodes said his group provides access to food for more than 85 percent of the county.
In addition to their Mineral Wells office – which is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays – Helping Hands employs a mobile food bank to service the rest of the county as well. On the third Saturday of each month, their truck caters to a couple hundred needy families in Gordon, Strawn and Mingus. They also go to Graford on the fourth Saturday of each month and offer homebound deliveries to about 35 families on the second Tuesday of each month.
All of those numbers are bound to go up in the coming months and that means the organization will need some helping hands of their own.
Helping Hands needs donations, food and especially volunteers. In addition to food, they offer clothing, toys and other household items at no charge to their clients. Rhodes said they sort around 5,000 pounds of food and another 3,000 to 5,000 pounds of clothing weekly. Clothing is just as big of a need as food, according to Rhodes, who has seen many people come in to get coats for their children and babies since the cold weather has come in.