Seymour food bank adjusts services for holidays
During the season of giving, Seymour's CROSS food ministry makes a few changes to its normal services to accommodate the increase in demand.
CROSS, which stands for Christians Reaching Out Serving Seymour, saw a peak in demand around October and November, then slacked off the beginning of December, according to ministry president Buddy Greene.
"But we expect next week to be very busy," Greene said.
Along with food, the ministry is giving out all the clothing it receives, and, being Christmastime, toys.
"We've been getting quite a bit of toys, and we're working on making them available to clients," Greene said. "We got some neat stuff in."
CROSS receives donated items from members of the community and stores them in its building on Boyds Creek Highway. Toys have been coming in steadily, and the back garage is full of all kinds of playthings, including a bicycle and a toy Black & Decker work bench.
"Normally as we get closer to Christmas, we get people calling because they don't have any toys for their kids," said Sandra Williams, vice president of CROSS.
"Those are the ones we really need to help," Greene added.
The ministry receives a lot of food donations, but, really, it takes just about anything it can get. A large donation of toilet paper recently came in, and a man wanted to know if he could donate a full-size artificial Christmas tree. CROSS took it, even though the ministry had trouble giving away the few Christmas trees it received last year. Their clients prioritize, Greene said, and what they need most is food.
Greene said, although CROSS gets a lot of help from the community, the ministry purchases a new supply of food each month. This month's total came to around $7,000 in food supplies, Greene said. That number is up from the average $4,000-$5,000 the ministry usually spends on food each month.
"When I ordered food, I ordered it in anticipation of more clients coming in," Greene said. "For the last two months, we've run out and had to go get emergency supplies, so I've anticipated more this month."
CROSS doesn't ask its clients for proof of income. "All we're interested in is that they need help," Greene said. The only other thing CROSS asks for is the number of family members so it can decide whether the clients get a small box or a large box.
"The large box is basically the same thing as the small box, but some of the items are (a greater quantity)," Greene said.
Each year around the holidays, CROSS sets up a kind of voucher program with Food City. Clients can sign up for food vouchers and redeem them at any Food City location. This year, however, the vouchers are being replaced by gift cards that Food City already manufactures.
"We used to do the paper vouchers, but we're giving out these gift cards this year," Greene said. "They're good at any Food City, so the clients can go there and purchase what they need for Christmas."
Beginning Monday and lasting all week, CROSS will be giving out the gift cards for those who signed up for them.
As far as after-Christmas programs, Greene said CROSS will start helping with utility bills some time after Jan. 1.
And as with the ministry's other programs, the board sets aside a certain amount of money for the utility bill program.