Despite increased demand, Olney HELP supports local families -- Gazette.Net



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The shelves at Olney HELP are full once again.

Thanks to Olney Chiropractic Center’s 24th annual Food for the Needy drive, three carloads of food and $5,478.50 in cash donations will provide short-term food and financial assistance to local families in need.

“That is the most we have ever raised,” said office manager Willie Farmer. “We are extremely grateful to all who helped us meet our goal of helping others in need right in our own community.”

Olney HELP Director Marilyn Simonds said she appreciates the generosity of Olney Chiropractic and its patients.

“[Olney Chiropractic has] been one of their largest supporters over the years, and they always hold their drive before Thanksgiving, which really helps us with holiday baskets,” she said. “We are hoping that other businesses and organizations in Olney will see fit to help us.”

Olney HELP was founded in 1969, by members of several area churches. Today, it is run by volunteers who operate from their homes with no overhead costs.

Chuck Cozad, a volunteer driver, said that one of his greatest joys is going into the schools to pick up donations.

“Here are children in Montgomery County who are learning to share with people who have needs,” he said.”I love that.”

In addition to providing food, Olney HELP offers financial assistance to residents of Olney, Brookeville, Sandy Spring, Brinklow and Ashton who are facing evictions or utility cutoffs, or who need help in paying for prescription medications.

Simonds, who has been a volunteer with Olney HELP for more than 20 years, said that they distributed more than 50 Thanksgiving baskets this year.

“We’ve seen a lot of new families, in particular Spanish speaking and single mothers,” Simonds said. “There has been about a 20 to 25 percent increase in the number of families we have helped this year.”

Thanks to recent drives held by local schools and churches, Simonds said the pantry shelves are in good condition.

Deborah Hanson, food warehouse manager,said the shelves are full because this is the time of year when organizations hold food drives.

“This has to last us through the year,” she said. “By spring, the shelves won’t look like this.”

While they won’t ever turn down food donations, Simonds said they are currently appealing to the community for gifts to include with the holiday baskets. They try to include something for each member of the families they are helping. They are specifically requesting donations of toys and gift items or gift cards for teens and adults.

Donations of cash also are needed, to be used for financial assistance, and to help supplement the purchase of fresh food items and gifts.

Simonds is optimistic that their needs will be met.

“We usually have a very good response from the community,” she said.

To make a donation or request assistance, contact Olney HELP at 301-774-4334 and leave contact information.Monetary donations can also be made online at olneyhelp.org.

thogan@gazette.net