Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 21, 2014

Visions big for local food pantry

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — Board members for a Pauls Valley food pantry now have their plans in place for yet another holiday tradition later this year.

Looking even further ahead the Samaritans of Pauls Valley have a collective vision of one day getting their own food pantry home thanks to the generosity of a local property owner.

Put simply, the Samaritans board members would love to someday have a building of their own, where more space could lead to even more services offered to local residents in need.

“We are looking for a new location,” said Glenn Prater.

“It would allow us to have refrigeration and extra storage,” he said.

The Samaritans’ recent annual membership meeting was conducted in the basement of the Presbyterian Church on North Walnut.

It’s that same place where the Samaritans have kept for many years a relatively small area to store the food supplies given to low income residents in need.

Board members call the space a “blessing,” but they believe even more could be done if a local building was made available to the Samaritan effort and the overall goal of feeding the hungry.

“It would also allow us to ask other organizations to team up with the Samaritans,” Prater added.

“I would love to see us all come together under one umbrella working together in one place.”

For this gathering the Samaritans’ focus was on the numbers for a fiscal year that officially came to an end last month.

One big change came last Thanksgiving when the Samaritans didn’t hold its traditional food basket deliveries because the date was too close to the Christmas holiday, which did include the deliveries to local homes.

As it turns out that move wound up saving the food pantry in a big way.

“We’re way down in what we spent,” President Lou Hall said about the 2013-2014 fiscal year as a whole.

“But we didn’t have the Thanksgiving baskets, which is a big expense,” she said.

“Thanksgiving is our biggest holiday meal. I didn’t know it made that big a difference.”

For the year a total of 437 local households were helped by the Samaritans food pantry, which includes nearly 1,000 adults and almost 500 children.

Yet another big change during the year was the Samaritans became a true official non-profit organization allowing all donors to legally include any gifts on their tax returns.

“It has given us more money because people can now put this on their income taxes, which is what they wanted,” Hall said.

“It allows people to put these donations on their tax income exemptions.”

Hall added it’s also been a “tremendous benefit” for the Samaritans to be among the local groups under the investment umbrella of the Pauls Valley Community Foundation.

Shari Kendall has also been named the Samaritan board’s new vice president, while the next board meeting is scheduled for September.