Happy holidays may not be a phrase that every family understands. The flood of 2011 has left people out of their homes, out of jobs. The economy continues to be down, and for many people, it is a struggle to obtain food, clothing and personal supplies.
There is a place in Glenwood that can make many people’s lives a bit easier and their holidays a bit brighter.
The Mills County Storehouse, located at 405 Nuckolls St., serves as a recycled clothing and housewares store, similar to a Goodwill store. People donate gently used items, which are then sorted through by the volunteers to make sure they are appropriate for people to use. The storehouse has been in existence for nearly 40 years, according to board treasurer and fundraiser Barbara Kaiman.
The shop is open to the public Monday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
The storehouse has been in its current location since 2008. In many cases, an organization would be paying for the building after four years, but Kaiman said through help from community members, the storehouse building was paid for in 62 days.
The money gained from the Storehouse is used for various projects.
“The most notable one is the food bank, we provide food to anyone in the county - anyone who is identified as having a need,” Kaiman said. “We ask that people go through the department of human services.”
People who have an unexpected disaster, such as a fire, can also use the food pantry.
The demand on the food pantry has increased about 30 percent this year, mostly due to the flooding. “It was horrible. Even if they were displaced they were still paying their house payment,” Kaiman said. “Some people were paying to have stuff stored. Nobody got double incomes, but they got double fees.”
Kaiman said Mills County is very unique in the food pantry, as it provides not only food for people, but also a complete array of personal care items (soap, toilet paper, etc.), diapers, dishwashing detergent and laundry detergent.
People in need are often especially grateful for these items, Kaiman said.
“Even if you get food stamps, you don’t get money for personal care items. People coming here get approximately one week of groceries plus personal items.”
The storehouse provides an annual holiday gifting program called Operation Santa. People who want help with Christmas gifts can pick up forms at this time from the storehouse the local grocery stores. The forms are due back the first week of December.
Families that have qualified will receive notification by phone between Dec. 7 and Dec. 9, and they will be able to go to the American Legion on Dec. 10 and use a $50 voucher per child to choose gifts from new toys, recycled toys and books. These have been collected by storehouse volunteers throughout the year. A parents’ boutique is also available for kids to pick out gifts for their parents.
The system has been set up so that the gifts these people receive for the holidays come from the family members, not the storehouse.
“We want to preserve the dignity of the families, so this way the gifts are from the families not us,” Kaiman said. “It’s important that everything they select comes from them.”
Along with holiday gifts, around 100 food baskets will be distributed Dec. 17. Names of those in need are collected by the volunteers through the Department of Human Services.
Still another project the storehouse does is to purchase school supplies, sweat clothes, and underwear for kids. These are available to students at the schools.
The organization is completely staffed by volunteers, and has a governing board of six women: Wilma Ring, Kathy Roenfeld, Tenita Goy, Bonnie Esterling, Alaina Morgan and Kaiman. The board meets at least three times a year, but will meet more often if a special situation appears.
“This community is truly vested in us. It’s been my privilege to serve on this board. It was kind of a joke when I decided I wanted to do a fundraising letter, because no one had ever done that. People have been extremely supportive and we are committed to using their dollars very wisely.” Kaiman said.
Those people interested in helping the storehouse can donate, according to Kaiman, time talent and dollars.
Key items that can be donated to the food bank include personal care items, diapers, cereal and other non-perishable items such as fruit, vegetables, soups and boxed meals.
The Mills County Storehouse’s goal is to provide whatever people need.
Kaiman said, “Our mission statement is to ease the pain and suffering of those in our county.”