Good Sam sets priority as need grows

by Cristin Parker

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one… organization, that is.

Because so many local families continue to feel the economic pinch brought on by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, The Good Samaritan-Rusk Cares food pantry continues to put its clients first by using all monetary donations the non-profit has been collecting lately to buy food items instead of earmarking a portion of funds received for a future new facility.

“I knew there was a need for their service here, but I had no idea it was that great,” Rusk State Farm Insurance Agent Austin Young said last week during a donation presentation held Thursday, July 30. “State Farm has a give-back program and are very good about supporting their agents in supporting their communities. The Good Samaritan helps so many people so I’m doubly glad my office can help them out today.”

Good Sam officials had been trying to raise funds to build a new building, and while those plans are still in the works, actively saving for that endeavor has halted.

“We’ve got some plans drawn up and some hard numbers on the cost,” Good Sam Board President Mona Burford said. “All told it’s going to cost about $90,000.

“Right now though, we’re spending donations on food for our clients rather than trying to put any back for the building.”

Twice a month, the Good Samaritan provides food boxes at no charge to families who qualify and apply for the service. Boxes routinely include assorted types of meats, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Longtime Good Sam volunteer Jo Abernathy said the number of food-insecure families the organization has been serving has increased in the last four months.

“We serve more than 150 families every two weeks since this pandemic started,” she said. “That’s quite a bit more than is usual.”

Distribution days are 9:30-11 a.m., every first and third Wednesday of the month at the Good Samaritan, 190 W. Second St., Rusk.

“We barely have anything in our warehouse right now,” another regular volunteer, Linda Cotten, said last Thursday after last week’s distribution day. “All those items the probation office brought us just a few days ago is gone. That’s disheartening and a little concerning.”

While the Good Samaritan is supported through the East Texas Food Bank (ETFB), that entity’s supplies have been limited as everyone else’s needs around the area have grown, too, Burford explained.

According to the ETFB’s website, thus far in fiscal year 2020, 24,650,000 meals have been provided to an estimated 91,500 households across the 26 counties the Bank and its agencies serve.

Anyone interested in donating non-perishable food items or funds to the Good Samaritan in Rusk can call the organization, (903) 683-2376 to arrange a food donation pick-up or drop-off; or mail donations via check, made payable to the Good Samaritan, to The Good Samaritan, PO Box 632, Rusk, TX 75785.