EDMOND — EDITOR’S NOTE: As a public service to our community, today is the last in a series of articles for the annual Edmond Sun Christmas Samaritan Fund Drive benefiting the HOPE Center of Edmond.
Edmond takes care of its own through HOPE Center. The local nonprofit food and clothing closet offers a health clinic and limited emergency financial assistance for rent and utilities.
A mother of three, Levetrice Steele said she discovered the HOPE Center to be a valuable resource after she gave birth to her first son.
“The staff was very helpful and informative about people that were hiring or were helping with resumes,” she said. “They try to get you back to where you need to be.”
Today, Steele is working toward her degree at the University of Oklahoma to become a physician’s assistant.
Fewer families are forced to choose between paying utility bills or clothing their children because of charitable donors to The Edmond Sun Christmas Samaritan Fund Drive for the HOPE Center of Edmond. HOPE Center appreciates charitable contributions and volunteer efforts made throughout the year, said Chris Sperry, executive director.
The annual fundraiser allows HOPE to keep up with an increase in clients qualifying for temporary assistance due to catastrophic emergencies, domestic violence, child abuse, poverty, divorce, loss of a job and sickness.
Winter coats are available for parents and their children. Families who have lost clothing in a fire have benefited from suits and working outfits needed in daily life.
More than $3 million in emergency assistance for those in need has been provided by the center’s generous supporters since The Edmond Sun began the Samaritan Fund Drive in 1989. Many of the donors have been clients themselves, Steele said.
“I’m just fortunate to live in Edmond. My kids live here and go to schools in the community. It’s a pretty close-knit community,” Steele said.
No one should feel embarrassed to ask for help, Steele said.
“They’ve kind of been in the same situation before and they know how it is,” Steele said. “It’s really good for people in the community. It’s a blessing.”
HOPE Center provides food to nearly 300 families a month, Sperry said. The amount of temporary emergency services grows as the city’s population grows. People used to come for clothing. Now they usually come for food, clothing and utility assistance, Sperry said.
“Hope Center has provided both consistent and comprehensive services year after year,” Sperry said.