Helping hands

Members of the Englewood United Methodist Church Missions Committee ventured out to gather and deliver much-needed supplies to the Englewood Helping Hand building behind them.

ENGLEWOOD — Members of the Englewood United Methodist Church Missions Committee ventured out to gather and deliver much-needed supplies to the Englewood Helping Hand building.

The committee encourages others to join them and a growing number of other groups and individuals in stepping up to donate goods and funds here that help local individuals and families who face unusual hardships these days.

Englewood Helping Hand, Inc. was founded by the Englewood Ministerial Association in 1983 as an independent 501© (3) nonprofit agency. It was established to fill a void for coordinated local delivery of human services assistance, with support from nine area churches. It is located on property donated by Englewood United Methodist Church, 700 E. Dearborn St.

Helping Hand remains the closest resource for low-income residents of Charlotte and Sarasota counties who live in and around Englewood.

Seven churches work with the organization’s board of directors to ensure its maintenance and success. They provide volunteer staffing and leadership, as well as financial and food pantry donations from their congregations. Participating are the Christ Lutheran, Crosspoint Nazarene, Englewood United Methodist, Fellowship, Gulf Cove United Methodist, Living Hope, and Trinity Lutheran Churches. Others are welcome to join the coalition.

This community supported agency is in the midst of a capital fundraising campaign. The aging Helping Hand building needs to be replaced with a larger facility equipped with more pantry storage and meeting space.

Services help low-income qualified individuals and families meet their basic needs. Helping Hand service funds are maximized by screening and connecting clients in need with other resources that help with utilities, housing, and other emergency expenses on a short-term basis. Counseling is also provided toward solving problems and reaching self-sufficiency.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, help is temporarily limited to food pantry distributions while the reduced staff is focused on keeping the Helping Hand food pantry stocked and open to meet increased demands.

According to frontline worker Kim Bruemleve, Helping Hand board member, on May 6, “We had a record day today upon serving 69 families and individuals within five hours.”

Pantry stocking needs change almost weekly. Recently needed most has been soup, vegetables, peanut butter, jelly, condiments, dry or canned pasta, tomato sauce and products, toilet paper, and soap. Other foods frequently needed are tuna and canned meats, canned vegetables, canned and dried beans, macaroni and cheese, rice, and cereal.

Donated goods must be nonperishable and not packaged in glass. Small or medium sized items are best. Pop-top can lids are preferred, but not required.

As food stamps do not cover essential taxable items donations such as household cleaning supplies, towel and toilet paper, diapers and other baby products, laundry products and personal care products.

Until further notice, the center is on reduced hours: 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Normal hours are 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays except holidays. Once normalcy returns and then only, after hours appointments may be arranged for services by calling the office at 941-474-5864 during office hours. Visit: englewoodhelpinghand.org.

Anyone needing information about what resources might be available to help address a problem or unmet personal need can telephone the national 211 program to investigate eligibility for and referral to other local assistance resources.

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