Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

December 17, 2012

Food group runs on financial faith

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — A festive holiday season could be followed up by some serious financial question marks for one Pauls Valley group with a mission to help those in need.

The questions are for the Pauls Valley Samaritans, a longtime food pantry ministry helping local residents in need.

Although all looks well as Christmas quickly approaches, it’s the post holiday period that has some concerned.

Depleted funds could threaten the Samaritans’ main mission of being able to provide the emergency assistance long after the holidays are over.

In other words — being able to have the food for those needing help throughout the entire year.

“Our mission is emergency food for the less fortunate,” said Lou Hall. “That’s really the mission of the Samaritans.

“We’re concerned about what happens after the Christmas break and not having the money for the monthly emergency food.

“Many of the people we help are single mothers and senior citizens,” she said. “With our dwindling funds our concern is how are we going to help them when they come to us.

“Our big concern is after Christmas.”

Yet another concern is the future of the Samaritans’ tradition of offering special holiday food baskets for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

That tradition will continue next week but will likely get a closer look later on as Samaritan board members will focus on the main mission of providing help year round.

“We may have to quit the holiday baskets to stretch out the money for those people needing help during the year,” Hall said.

The Samaritan group spent about $6,000 for the Thanksgiving basket campaign a few weeks ago and are expected to spend about the same for Christmas.

Volunteers are expected to work to put together the Christmas baskets on Thursday, Dec. 20 followed by the pick up of those baskets on the following Friday afternoon.

“We’ve still got people giving end of year contributions, but this is highly unusual,” she said about the tight budget now threatening future services.

“This is our 34th year, and we’ve never experienced this.”

Hall added a big boost for the Samaritans in recent years has been a handful of big donations left to the group through the wills of people wanting to continue helping out the local food pantry ministry even after their deaths.

The next Samaritan board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 10.