Good Samaritan projects get needed financial boost from donors
Two unexpected donations to Rusk Cares – Good Samaritan has given the organization a much-needed boost for both its food distribution program and serious deposit on a desired building project for the organization.
Recently, the Rusk Lions Club applied for – and quickly received – $2,000 funds in mid-March.
“It was all over the phone, we didn’t have to write a thing,’ said club president Dale Landrum. “The district governor called the Texas Lions Foundation and said, ‘This is worthy.’ I was amazed at how quickly it was done!”
Mona Burford, director of The Good Samaritan Food Pantry and Thrift Store, said the Good Samaritan team is thrilled by the Lions’ generous donation, along with volunteers they sent Wednesday morning to help distribute this week’s food boxes to families in need.
“The average donations we get (for the food program) are generally less than $100 – many are $25 or $50, so it takes a lot of people to support the weekly distributions. It’s usually the same people, though we are starting to see new names, which is wonderful,” she said.
Distribution is from 9:30 to 11 a.m., every first and third Wednesday of the month at the 190 W. 2nd St. site, with approximately up to 200 families living within the Rusk ISD boundaries helped each time. The monthly cost for the food, purchased through the East Texas Food Bank, is about $5,000 per month; the food bank additionally includes free produce along with the semi-monthly orders, she said.
A second sizable donation made to the Rusk program was in the amount of $50,000 in memory of a local couple’s daughter “who they said loved the Good Samaritan and the shopping here,” Burford said. “To my knowledge, it’s our first time to receive that sort of donation … I was speechless.”
The funds are seed money for a proposed new building that not only will house the food and thrift store programs, but also include office space.
Turn-key cost is approximately $500,000, for which the Good Samaritan is aggressively pursuing grants to fund the cost.
“We have an aggressive time schedule – we want to have this building on the ground this time next year,” she said. “It’s a metal pre-fab turn-key building, which they can construct pretty quickly once we have the funds to pay for it all.
Rusk city officials are helping the organization keep an eye out for suitable property on which to locate the new site, and a building fund has been established at Citizens 1st Bank.
In the meantime, the organization is looking for “knowledgeable people to be on our building committee,” who have financial, construction, engineering and development or architectural backgrounds to help realize the proposed project.
Landrum challenged the local community to both help fund the food program and help with establishing a new location.
“There’s a need in Cherokee County and we just think it’s a good thing to do,” he said.
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