Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

January 15, 2013

Food group gets brighter holidays

Barry Porterfield
AP-Associated Press — The giving of others made it a brighter holiday season for one Pauls Valley group that continues to work hard with a mission to help feed those in need.

Questions about how the Pauls Valley Samaritans food pantry ministry would do after the recent holidays got a big boost when a number of donations came in to help the cause.

Now board members for the group are focusing their attention on the main mission of feeding those in need throughout the year and into the next round of holidays later in 2013.

“We’re really doing pretty well after the holidays,” said board treasurer Carol Reed about the Samaritan budget.

“With the last minute appeals that’s when the money started coming in,” she said. “The donations were very generous.”

Local minister Tom Buzbee was one board member during a recent meeting who echoed the group’s concerns as this past holiday season approached.

“Carol you say things are doing better but it was desperate before Thanksgiving,” Buzbee said.

Buzbee was referring to the Samaritans’ normal practice of providing special baskets of food to low-income Pauls Valley residents for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

At the time there were a number of questions about how the Samaritans would complete the campaign and still be prepared to provide emergency food assistance to families in need throughout the entire year that followed.

The Samaritans, which do not receive any federal monies to assist, got some answers when contributions came in from a number of donors throughout the community.

Lou Hall is quick to praise not only those who gave money for the cause but also the people who gave their time during the holiday basket campaign, including a number of local FFA students and the county jail inmates who helped distribute the food.

“I want to thank everybody,” Hall said, referring to the Christmas baskets. “I believe we’re doing God’s work and he’s with us.”

At the same time Hall warns of one big obstacle the group must consider — a forecast of food prices going up by 16 percent this year.

“If food prices go up that’s going to have a big impact on us,” she said.

During the year the Samaritans help on average about 20 to 25 households a month with the summer months being the peak period.

To help keep the food assistance coming an idea was offered to create a team of interested board members who will work to identify any problems with the Samaritan effort and figure out some answers for the board as a whole to consider.

“I think the problem solving team will work well,” Buzbee said.

This new problem solving team is expected to first meet on Feb. 14 with the next Samaritan board meeting scheduled in March.