Volunteers engine that keeps HOPE moving

Steve Myles is one of 200 weekly volunteers that HOPE Center of Edmond depends on for client services.Steve Myles is one of 200 weekly volunteers that HOPE Center of Edmond depends on for client services.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As a public service to our community, today is the first in a series of five weekly articles for the annual Edmond Sun Christmas Samaritan Fund Drive benefiting the HOPE Center of Edmond.

Every single donation is a blessing to the HOPE Center of Edmond, said Chris Sperry, executive director. HOPE Center not only depends on financial donations, but also the 200-plus volunteers donating their time and energy for the welfare of others.

Catastrophic emergencies caused by disease, unemployment, child abuse, homelessness, domestic violence and divorce are among the reasons Edmond residents seek assistance at HOPE, a nonprofit agency. It also provides a prenatal health clinic for mothers.

Today marks the second week of The Edmond Sun Christmas Samaritan Fund Drive benefiting HOPE Center. The fundraising goal of $170,000 for this year will help families with temporary emergency assistance.

“The kindness of people around Christmas just touches you,” Sperry said. “It really is good for your soul to see people here wanting to help other people.”

HOPE Center has been a staple in the community for 31 years. More than $3.336 million in emergency assistance for those in need has been provided by the center’s generous supporters of the Samaritan Fund Drive since 1989.

Volunteer opportunities include working in the clothing room by organizing donations. They also assist clients when receiving clothing, bedding and household items. Food room volunteers help place items on shelves or in boxes ready to go. Reception volunteers will greet clients and answer phone calls so clients will feel comfortable and respected, Sperry said.

“We have kids that come after school that maybe need National Honor Society points,” Sperry said. “A lot of times Key Club or DECA, they come as part of their service.”

University of Central Oklahoma students often receive extra credit for volunteering at HOPE, Sperry said. Brownie or Boy Scout groups complete service projects to support their community.

“A lot of times people just need something to do and need to feel like they’re doing something useful, and something that makes them feel as good as they make other people happy,” Sperry said.

Volunteers also help run HOPE’s resale shop HOPEfully Yours at 100 N. Broadway. Sales from the shop fund HOPE’s prenatal clinic throughout the year.

Volunteer Rita Kendall said clients are appreciative of the generosity of Edmond. Friendships are formed as she sorts through donations of clothing materials, she added.

“I have time to volunteer and this is just a good place in the community to do it,” said Kendall, a volunteer for two years.

Jamie McCabe was volunteering nearby Kendall. The stay-at-home mom said she makes great friends while helping people at the same time. Several people in the community have thanked McCabe when noticing her wearing a HOPE Center t-shirt.

“HOPE Center has really changed my life,” former clients will tell her.

Steve Myles and his wife spend their Mondays volunteering at HOPE. A good crew keeps everything in order, Myles said while stacking shelves of food.

“We have a good time keeping it straight,” he said. “It makes it a whole lot easier to deal with our clients when they do come in.”

The agency spends nearly $5,000 a month on fresh food items not covered by the canned food donated to the center.

“Toiletry items and baby items are the kind of things we are short on,” Myles said. “Everyone thinks of the food drives, but they do not necessarily think of the other things that go along with keeping things going.”

More than 400 families are adopted each year by HOPE’s volunteer Christmas sponsors. By adopting families, sponsors agree to provide gifts for the children of a family, Sperry said. Samaritans also provide groceries for their adopted family to make Christmas dinner. Clients need only fill out an application form. HOPE Center matches families’ needs with what a sponsor would like to provide.

“I think we have people who are genuinely caring people who really do care about their neighbor. They really do want to support and find a way to share what they have,” Sperry said.

TO LEARN MORE about HOPE Center, 124 N. Broadway, visit www.hopecenterofedmond.com or call 348-1340. A volunteer application form is available at the HOPE Center website. HOPE Center is open Monday-Thursday and office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday hours are from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

For holiday hours, HOPE Center will be closed for client services from Dec. 21 to Jan. 3 and will return to its regular schedule Jan. 4. The warehouse is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The warehouse will be closed Dec. 24-26 as well as Jan. 1.

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