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Maryville Churches Join Forces to Help Needy

By Stephanie Malench, Reporter

Maryville Outreach Center started in the basement of the fire station in the 1980s as just a food pantry. In its early days at the fire station, the dispatcher or a police officer would assist those in need who came when volunteers were not present. Thirty years later, the Outreach Center has expanded into its own building at 504 E. Division St and an addition of Grandma’s Attic and a Resident’s Assistance Program.

About  10 years later when Larry Gulledge became mayor in 1993, he began working with area pastors to form the Ministerial Alliance, which would oversee a more comprehensive assistance program for Maryville residents and parishioners of the member churches.  The Alliance met regularly except during the summer and was made up of the following founding member churches:  St. John’s Lutheran Church, Mother of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Our Lord’s Lutheran Church, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church of Maryville, New Rivers Assembly, and Copper Creek Christian Church. All churches are still in the Alliance and LifePoint 365 joined later.

The current location was built on land owned by the village with donations from Madison County and members of the Ministerial Alliance.  All of the work except laying the foundation and bricks was done by volunteers.

Grandma’s Attic is a resale shop started in the early 2000s open to the public selling clothing and household items by the bag or 25 cents per item.  Foster children can shop at Grandma’s Attic for free. Proceeds from the program go to the Food Pantry and the Resident’s Assistance Program. The Attic is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am until noon and from 5:30-7:30 om on Tuesdays.  Volunteers are always needed to help customers shop, sort donations and check customers out, especially on Friday mornings which were newly added.

Clothing that is donated and deemed unsellable is either donated to the homeless through Mind the Gap and Making A Difference or recycled at a penny a pound. The recycling bin is located in the parking lot at Our Lord’s Lutheran Church and raises approximately $1200 a year for residents in need in Maryville and members of the Interfaith Alliance parishes.

The Food Pantry helps between 20 and 25 families who either live in Maryville or are parishioners of the member churches each month and receives regular donations from Little Caesar’s Pizza, Schnucks, and the Drost Park community garden as well as members of the community. The pantry is currently gearing up to receive donations from the annual Boy Scouts Scouting For Food Drive on November 16 and is looking for volunteers to help the Boy Scouts unload the food, take it into the pantry and put it on the shelves. Perishable leftovers are also given to the homeless.

Once the shelves are full again, volunteers will start making 20-25 Thanksgiving baskets for clients containing turkey, eggs, butter, fruit, and dessert donated by the member parishes as well as 3 bags of canned foods from the pantry shelves such as canned vegetables, meats, pastas, and fruits.

The Food Pantry is run by 2-3 volunteers each day from the member churches. The churches rotate their volunteer shifts every 6 weeks. Hours are from 5:30 until 7:00 pm on Tuesdays and 10 am until noon on Thursday and Saturday.

The Resident Assistance Program was the last program added and has the smallest average usage of only 2-3 residents per month but can help more if illegible.  Assistance is eligibility and situationally based for such needs as rent assistance, water and electric bills, prescription assistance, emergency dental and bus passes. Interested applicants must provide a copy of their driver’s license, complete a background check, and fill out registration and application forms which include type of assistance requested and monthly household income.

To receive services, at least 3 of the member pastors must approve the application. Those who do not qualify based on income are given the names of 2 of the pastors who provide free financial counseling. Applications for the Resident’s Assistance program are taken on Tuesdays from 5:30-7:00 pm and by appointment.

To donate or volunteer with any of the Maryville Outreach Center Programs call (618)345-9693 or go to the office at 504 Division St. during scheduled business hours.

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