The holiday season is a time for giving and groups like Yadkin Christian Ministries tend to have an influx of donations during that time of year. The need, however, is ongoing, though donations sometimes slack off as spring and summer arrive. On Friday, the shelves were nearly empty at the Yadkinville location.
YCM Director Cheryl Nehnevajsa said they served more than 18,000 people in 6,500 families last year for food necessities.
“We also assisted people with rent, utilities, water and other crisis needs as we were able and approved as appropriate,” Nehnevajsa said.
The ministry’s primary fundraiser for the year, Empty Bowls, is scheduled for next month and various groups throughout the year host fundraising events as well. David Frederick, coordinator at the East Bend location of YCM, said that cash donations go a bit further as the group is able to purchase items at a deeply discounted rate from the Second Harvest Food Bank. Item donations are always welcome as well.
“We always love to receive a large variety of canned vegetables, soups, sauces and fruits. Often people donate peanut butter, tuna, canned green beans or corn, baked beans and chicken or tomato soup, but it is nice to get a variety so we can offer our clients more choice,” Nehnevajsa said. “Jello, pudding, chips, or fruit snacks would be great to donate. Kids especially love cereal, cookies, crackers, macaroni and cheese as well as canned pastas with or without meat.”
“Since we have allowed folks to choose their food, we have discovered many people desire toilet paper, so we have added this to our shopping list as often as we can,” she added.
At the East Bend location, Frederick said that laundry detergent, toiletry items and feminine products are always needed as those items may not be purchased using EBT cards.
“Items we do not currently offer unless donated are coffee, tea, cake or cookie mixes, icing, stuffing mix, salad dressing, gravy or sauce packets, condiments, syrup, jelly or jam, juice or drink mixes, oranges or apples,” added Nehnevajsa. “Second Harvest Food Bank offers us a variety of governmental food, canned goods, salvage, milk or juice, and such, as they have available. We also purchase items such as flour, sugar, cooking oil, toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dish detergent, and laundry soap. We receive some produce and eggs from Second Harvest and local farmers. Grocers and Second Harvest assist us in offering a variety of meat or fish products as they are available. We are very grateful to Second Harvest, Food Lion, Lowes and Sheetz for assisting us in receiving their donations and available resources.
“Yadkin Christian Ministries began as a group of pastors trying to work together to meet some of the needs of individuals who came to the churches looking for help,” Nehnevajsa explained.
“By setting up this ministry, the churches were able to support buying more resources to help meet needs and know that folks are being directed to only one place. To this day 60-plus churches, agencies and individuals continue to support the ministry of those in need in Yadkin County through the work of Yadkin Christian Ministries. We work together as a community to assist in the critical needs of our neighbors with food, prescriptions, emergency aid, prayers, hope, and encouragement,” she said.
“We seek to help individuals and families in crisis to overcome obstacles that threaten their need for food or possibly resources such as prescription or heat assistance. We focus on helping folks in crisis and try to understand the situation well enough to hopefully assist them in getting out of a crisis situation.”
The assistance provided by YCM goes well beyond just providing food.
“The other day we had an individual who was without a job and currently living in her car. She asked for help in getting into a homeless shelter, but needed a tire fixed and gas to get there. We were able to work with community businesses, issue vouchers, and find a shelter where she could go to stay,” Nehnevajsa said.
Another recent story involved an elderly family who had been in the hospital for several weeks and returned home to find a broken water pipe resulting in a large water bill.
“Thanks to the Peggy Boose Trust Fund, we were able to provide a voucher to cover their bill,” Nehnevajsa said.
The group also receives grant funds from Yadkin County United Fund to assist clients with medication costs.
“We are especially thankful for this grant because often we find that the folks who need food have not been getting their medications since they have no money for food or other necessities like gas for the car so they can go to work. By folks knowing we are an avenue to receiving food we can begin conversations to discover what other resources may be lacking or affecting their health and well-being,” said Nehnevajsa.
Asking for assistance of this nature is not always easy, but Nehnevajsa encouraged those who might be struggling to reach out to Yadkin Christian Ministries.
“At different times in our life, we all need help of some kind,” she said. “Our clients are the smile or encouragement we need sometimes and we learn from them, too. We hope to be a brother or sister in Christ who is here to help those who have no place to turn. Someone may just find themselves in a situation they need some guidance or assistance. Yadkin Christian Ministries tries to be here for anyone who needs help, guidance, encouragement, or assistance. Working together makes things better for all of us and makes our community stronger. We hope some will just come to visit so they know what resources are available even if they do not need our services, they may meet someone who does.”
Courtney Baptist Church is hosting a breakfast fundraiser for Yadkin Christian Ministries on Feb. 25 from 7 to 10 a.m. Tickets are $8 per person.
The annual Empty Bowls fundraiser will take place on March 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Yadkinville United Methodist Church. Tickets are $20 in advance and may be purchased at the Yadkin Christian Ministries office, 117 Woodlyn Drive on Mondays from 2 to 7 p.m. or Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets at the door are limited and will be $25 each.
Every individual will receive a handmade pottery bowl, chicken stew or vegetable soup, salad, dessert and a refreshment. There also will be a silent auction item featuring homemade cakes, collectibles and more. Along with the auction is a raffle for a handmade quilt with chances costing $1 per ticket. These tickets are available at the YCM office in advance or the day of the event if any are available.
“Please come for the fun, fellowship and food for an easy way to support those in need of help in your neighborhood,” said Nehnevajsa.
For more information on the Empty Bowls event or other services offered by Yadkin Christian Ministries, call 336-677-3080.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.