Volunteers (l to r) Gail Norton, Pat Taft, Mindy Mullins and Joe Henry (opposite side of counter) volunteer at the food pantry.
One out of every six Oklahomans lives in poverty according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Twenty-one years ago, volunteers from a local church set out to change that in Rogers County. In 2004, The Good Samaritan Ministry, Inc. (GSM) incorporated as a non-profit and has been working diligently ever since to that same end.
GSM offers relief to neighbors in need—food, clothing, and emergency assistance for utility bills. Individuals receiving aid must qualify based on income. “We serve individuals of all beliefs, ethnicities, and backgrounds,” Shirley Tripp, Executive Director, explains, “We are a faith-based charity and we also offer individuals the opportunity for prayer and spiritual encouragement if they choose to talk with a volunteer assistant.” Donated Bibles are available to individuals seeking encouragement.
GSM fed over seven hundred individuals in June, and, on average, GSM distributes 2,000 pounds of food monthly. GSM is currently accepting donations of canned goods to replenish its food pantry.
Clothing is also provided to those in need, from infants to adults. Qualifying individuals may shop for their free clothing items in the thrift store onsite. The thrift store is also open to the public to shop at deeply discounted prices. The monies earned are then donated to GSM. There is a need for donated boys and adult men’s clothing.
Two part-time employees and a group of about 40 volunteers operate GSM. Two days per week, 12 to 15 volunteers are needed to help during hours open to the public. Volunteers are also needed at other times throughout the week, as it takes a great deal of work behind-the-scenes to accept, sort and organize donations.
As great as the need that exists, so, too, is the need for support. Perhaps the greatest need of all is that of monetary donations. In May, GSM kicked off its Partners in Growth Campaign to raise at least $100,000 for the expansion and renovation of their facility. Specifically, the campaign will fund an 800 square-foot expansion for food storage, commercial refrigeration and freezer units. The additional space is critical to ensure safety and efficiency in feeding the hungry. GSM also hopes to reconfigure and renovate the building, making the area better suited to accommodate the large crowds it now serves.
Gail Norton, Volunteer, handles the check out at GSM Thrift Store.
The capital campaign, slated to run through October 1, is gaining momentum. In fact, The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council has approved a $10,000 grant for Partners in Growth Campaign projects. Other corporate partners, including RCB Bank, and individuals have also pledged their support. “We are so grateful for the gifts and pledges from area and community partners which put us over the half-way milestone mark in our Partners in Growth Campaign …, “ stated Kay Henry, GSM Board Chair and Campaign Director.
Even with great progress, though, the clock is ticking, and GSM needs additional donations. To contribute to the capital campaign, checks may be made payable and sent directly to Good Samaritan Ministry, Inc. with Partners in Growth Campaign designated thereon.
Kay Henry explains, “We are here to show God’s love to any and all that need help.”
See more about The Good Samaritan Ministry: Seeking Partners in Growth: