Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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July 17, 2014

Food pantry move a big step — The idea of soon having a place of their own is still like a dream for a group of volunteers fueling the good works of a longtime Pauls Valley food pantry.
It’s sure to take some time to get things ready, but the idea of the PV Samaritans having their own building brings about plenty of smiles.
Not too long ago the Samaritans group learned the old former NYA Building near Wacker Park would be the place to someday soon house the food pantry that for many years now has helped many hungry folks here in town.
The best part is the planned move, which could come this fall, will enable the food pantry to help so many more people in need during the coming years.
“With this new building we will be able to take more donations and that enables us to help more people,” said Shari Kendall, the Samaritans’ current board vice president.
“The Samaritans help a lot of people who are trying as hard as they can but just can’t make it,” she said.
“We’re going to have a lot of projects moving into this building. Any help we can get would be appreciated.”
Those thoughts are echoed by fellow board member Glenn Prater, who also hopes the Samaritans will get a little help as it makes the transition to a new home.
“This new building presents so many potentials for us,” Prater said.
“When we move into this building we’re going to need volunteers,” he said. “If you can give an hour a month then please give us that hour.”
The Samaritans food pantry has been there to help for 35 years. The group for many years has used a small area in the basement of the local Presbyterian Church to store food supplies.
With no access to refrigeration or freezers the pantry has been limited to storing only non-perishable food.
According board President Lou Hall, that fact alone has resulted in the Samaritans losing many chances to collect big food donations from places like local grocery stores.
That’s likely to change but help is needed as any donations of old but useable refrigerators and freezers are sought.
Also needed are donations of wire shelving and metal cabinets for food storage.
“Our dream for years was to have freezers. We’ve never been able to freeze it,” Hall said about the donated food.
“We have lots of needs, but this move should help us a lot. I think having this new home will solve a lot of our bad problems.”
Hall is also quick to credit PV City Manager James Frizell for suggesting the NYA Building as a possible new home for the Samaritans.
“James doesn’t want that building to be vacant and deteriorating,” Hall said about the building that once housed the local senior citizens center. “He would rather have someone in there using the space.”
She says the only funding provided to the Samaritans comes from donors.
Most of the food and monetary donations come from the annual Samaritan Sunday event where people attending local churches make their contributions. There are also steady donors to help the cause.
Those donations are important because of what Hall describes as some local living situations she’s encountered as being “hard to believe” because they were so dismal.
The Samaritans are best known for providing food baskets during the holidays.
Prater stresses help from the Samaritans is so much more.
“People need to know we provide food on a daily basis year around,” he said.
“There are a lot of needy people in this town. Folks need help here and we’re here to help.”

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