Burleson nonprofits help those in need
The holidays can be hard for anyone, but they are especially difficult for the 11.4 percent of Johnson County residents living below the poverty line (census.gov).
Thankfully, there are local nonprofits who can help. Harvest House, OpenDoor Church and Heart for the Kids are just a few nonprofits that provide food and clothing assistance during the winter months.
Harvest House has about 108 families signed up for its Holiday Angels program, according to Executive Director Jennifer Woods.
“We would like to encourage people to donate to help buy a holiday meal,” Woods said. “Each meal is $35 and consists of a turkey, green beans, stuffing, jello, fruit and a cookie or cake mix.”
Woods said having the community’s support is vital to this program.
“We are not financially able to do this on our own,” said Woods. “We need the community’s help to make this happen.”
Harvest House first started its Holiday Angels program 34 years ago, and has served 14,000 families just this year, according to Woods.
“Johnson County is pretty poor,” said Operations Manager Pam Jennings. “Just from my experience, I see a lot of need in the outlying areas such as Alvarado and Rio Vista. They get caught in this wedge where no one will help them. But we help them.”
To combat the ever increasing need, Harvest House has increased it’s number of food drives.
“We encourage businesses, communities and churches to do food drives,” Woods said. “Every can counts. If every resident of Burleson gave one can, we would be overwhelmed with food.”
Harvest House is located at 349 NW Renfro St. in Burleson.
OpenDoor Church also has a food bank to help families with groceries this holiday season and beyond.
Pastor Troy Brewer founded the found bank out of his truck 30 years ago.
OpenDoor Food Bank dates are November 18 and 26, as well as December 9 and 23. The line opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 10 a.m. on all days except Sunday, Nov. 26. This special food giveaway begins at 1 p.m. with the line closing at 3 p.m. The food bank facility is located at 6601 County Road 912 in Joshua and serves over 70,000 Johnson County residents each year.
“The line for food really starts to shape up between 5 and 6 a.m.,” Brewer said. “Some people park out front as early as 6 p.m. on Friday. That’s how desperate people are for food.”
This isn’t a typical food pantry. OpenDoor partners with major food distributors and grocery store chains throughout the region. Fresh dairy, produce and meat are featured items on the menu at each outreach.
“I’m always amazed by the quantity and quality of food our partners give us,” said Brewer. “A lot of it is organic or allergy-friendly. We love to load people up. We try to fill their cars and then some.”
The OpenDoor Food Bank isn’t just open for the holiday season. Brewer wants anyone who has a need to come to the food bank year-round.
“We are out here every two weeks and give away some ‘el primo’ food, no questions asked,” Brewer said. “We will never shame anybody or make them feel bad for needing help. We’ve all needed help ourselves and it’s our pleasure to serve those who come to the food bank.”
Sherry Hill, director of Heart for the Kids, a local non-profit, said her organization helped 367 children last year.
“Our motto is ‘Helping our community, one child at a time,’” Hill said. “We provide Christmas dinners, toys, coats, stuff like that.”
Families can apply with Heart for the Kids through Dec. 1. Stockings will be hung in the Burleson Walmart, First National Bank and Honda of Burleson for people to sponsor a child.
“Stockings will have basic gift ideas such as Barbies, Ninja Turtles, Legos, baby dolls, things we know kids will be asking for,” said Hill.
One thing Hill said she would like to see more of this year is gifts for teens.
“We feel like junior and high school kids should have Christmas too,” Hill said. “We don’t always get a whole lot of what teens are looking for, like perfume and cologne sets, lotions, MP3 players, gift cards. Typical things teens would like.”
The nonprofit also needs a few items for their Christmas dinner baskets.
“We need hams and turkeys for our families,” Hill said. “We also provide $10 Braums gift cards so that they can go buy their milk, eggs and butter.”
If you would like to apply for holiday help with Heart for the Kids, applications are being taken from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at 342 SW Alsbury Blvd in Burleson. Drop off donations at the daycare located at the address above from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Kyp Shillam provided additional reporting for this story.