Local volunteers help the hungry

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 29, 2005

For more than a dozen years, a local ministry has helped see the needy in the area don’t have to go to bed hungry at night.

&uot;I’ve been told by folks this ministry makes a difference in whether or not they can buy their medicine and still have food to eat,&uot; said the director of Joseph Ministries, Dick Harmon.

Harmon and his crew of volunteers were on hand in Greenville last week to unload almost $10,000 worth of canned goods and other non-perishable items obtained through the Montgomery Area Food Bank. Last Saturday, 216 boxes of groceries were distributed to area residents who had been cleared through an application process at the county human resources office. The food boxes are distributed on the fourth Saturday of every month.

Harmon knows how to bag a bargain for those in need.

&uot;We obtained all that food you see for only 16 cents on the dollar. It cost us just $850, and you can’t beat that,&uot; Harmon said with a broad grin.

Joseph Ministries was started as an all-volunteer Christian organization by Harmon, one he will assure you still &uot;operates on faith&uot; today.

&uot;They give us the boxes free at this box company over in Letohatchee. Folks are good to us. Somehow people always give us what we need to keep doing this,&uot; he says.

A case in point was the recent need for a new packing, storage and distribution point for the ministry, said Harmon.

&uot;We were using the old Ford building, but it sold and we had to make new arrangements – and fast,&uot; recalled Harmon.

&uot;I was almost in a panic, and then this became available. I am really pleased, this is working out great,&uot; Harmon said as he waved a hand toward the busy volunteers, many of whom, like Al Middleton, Billy Rhodes and T.A. Newton, are retirees.

&uot;All our workers are volunteers; they come from all facets of the community. They do a great job for us and sure do work hard to get things done,&uot; the ministry director said.

The food ministry has grown from giving away a couple of dozen boxes to more than two hundred each month – &uot;and we could give away more, only this trailer won’t hold any more food,&uot; Harmon said with a chuckle.

All those interested in becoming grocery recipients through the Joseph Ministries are screened through the Department of Human Resources Office located at 109 Caldwell St. in Greenville.

&uot;They do a really good job of screening applicants. But there is a definite need for this ministry. Do you know what the average yearly income of the folks we help out is? Only $5,000,&uot; Harmon points out, adding, &uot;That’s why folks say they have to choose between medicine and eating sometimes. We do make a difference.&uot;

Harmon appreciates all his volunteers and all those who donate funds and supplies to help keep the ministry going.

&uot;I honestly don’t know how to say how thankful I am for the people who help us. We couldn’t do it without them,&uot; he says.

To apply for assistance through the Joseph Ministries, contact the DHR office at 382-4400 or stop in their Caldwell St. location. To learn more about opportunities to serve through the Joseph Ministries, call Dick Harmon at 382-6728.