The Volunteers of Allen Parish's "HOPE Center"

Date:  February 15, 2007
Reported by:  John Bridges

   On any given morning, you'll find a dedicated group of Reeves and Ragley residents doing what they do best: helping people. They're volunteers for the H.O.P.E. Center, which stands for  "Helping Our People to Excel."   They distribute food and clothing to those in need. 

  "They are so surprised that anyone would come and do this," says Linda Himel.   "We come into work and they want to know,  'Why do you do this? You don't get paid for it. There's no reason for you to be here,' except God wants us to be here."

  They find an assembly line system works best.

"We have it set up where we start down at one end with an empty box and putting 3 or 4 items of each kind," says William Sumrall.
   In the Clothes Closet, you can choose anything off the rack, free. Pearl Airhart is a volunteer in the closet.

"There is no need for anyone to go without warm clothes in the wintertime and clothes in the summertime. I wish we would have had this when I was growing up. I grew up in the depression."

   The HOPE Center was especially busy after the hurricanes.   Organizer June Reeves says in the months immediately following Rita and Katrina, close to 100 thousand pounds of food was distributed.

   For more information on the HOPE Center, call 337-725-6536.