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Tough Choices… Food on the Table or Rent

In mid March Karen quietly explained her situation to a Salvation Army staff memeber. It had been over two and a half years since Karen sought help. Over that period cobbling two part-time jobs to equal one full-time on she worked 35 to 50 hours a week. For the single mother of two, two jobs barely provided for her family. Though she barely covered her monthly bills most months, she was pleased her family no longer needed any outside help, that is until recent circumstances overwhelmed her and what little she managed to save evaporated.

The distraught mother explained her sales clerk hours were cut by a quarter during the slow winter months and so too were her hours at the fast food restaurant that employed her. More hours would be coming, but the increase in hours was still three or four more weeks away. When her son became ill in late January, her portion of her son’s recent prescriptions and missing two days of work to care for hime put a strain on her budget. She knew the budget would be tight but keeping faith with her landlord and paid her rent on time. While winter heating bills further impacted here budget and having to replace her car’s battery and two windshield wipers ultimately left her family short of food. With payday still four days she explained that for the last two days they had mainly eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

The Salvation Army was pleased to help Karen and her children. Karen’s family received two bags of non-perishable groceries as well as a whole chicken. Fresh vegetables, bread and pastries which arrived hours before were also placed into a third bag. For Karen, the groceries were a godsend and more than enough to get her through to her paycheck later that week.

Thanks to generous donors The Salvation Army’s Food Pantry exists to serve Harrisonburg and Rockingham County low-income families. Many families like Karen’s who occasionally encounter issues due to an unexpected emergency. Monthly the pantry serves between 280 and 320 families with two to three days worth of food. It costs The Salvation Army $39 to provide a family of four with food, bread and other perishables. Over the course of a year, the food pantry provides over 132,000 meals to Harrisonburg and Rockingham families.

20 Tons of Potatoes

The Salvation Army is pleased to announce to the Harrisonburg/Rockingham community that in four days, on Saturday 23rd, that 22 tons are being given away free to anyone who wants them. The potatoes are being provided to the public by Cave Hill Farm LLC. Those wishing to receive the potatoes can pick the potatoes from the ground starting at 10 a.m. The potatoes are being plowed up that morning and made available to whoever wishes to have them.

In explaining what the farm is doing, John L Hopkins, manager of Cave Hill Farm stated, “Our farm’s goal with these potatoes is to help feed hungry people and assist low-income families, and anyone else who wishes them. As The Salvation Army works with those in need every day I’ve asked if they can assist Cave Hill to get the word out to those they help as well as to the wider community. God has generously blessed our family and we’re pleased to help low-income families in our community in this small way.”

Those wishing to receive potatoes are responsible for gathering the potatoes. People are also being encouraged to pick as many potatoes as they wish for their extended family and friends. Also Cave Hill Farm will be providing bags for gathering of the potatoes.

To further assist a wider range of people in the community with the potatoes, area families are encouraged to gather an extra bag or two of potatoes for the family to deliver to a food pantry, feeding program or shelter of their choosing.

The McGaheysville area farm is located along Island Ford Road (Route 649), approximately one mile east of the junction of Highway 33 and Island Ford Road. For those traveling east on Island Ford Road the farm field is located on the left side of the road by the highway. While Cave Hill Farm will be placing signs near the farm, “people just need to watch for the tractor and people in the field gathering the potatoes,” states Mr. Hopkins.

Christmas in July Food Drive Continues at Red Front

The Salvation Army’s Christmas in July Food Drive held in partnership with Red Front at 677 Chicago Ave. in Harrisonburg will continue through to August 2. Barrels for collecting nonperishable food are located in the Red Front lobby. The food collected from this drive is helping to restock the depleted shelves The Salvation Army’s food pantry program, a program that provides each month food for 300 to 320 families each month of the year.

Throughout the summer months the demand for food support remains constant as many low-income families are unable to afford to take time off or travel to visit family and friends.

Donations may be still sent for the Christmas in July Food Drive by sending a gift marked, “Christmas in July Food Drive” to The Salvation Army, PO Box 468, Harrisonburg VA 22803, or by clicking on the “Donate Now” button at the top of each page the organization’s web page.