Jerseyville Charity Works Pantry Needs More Help

JERSEYVILLE – Only a handful of people currently operate a Jerseyville charity, which is not enough to fully help everyone who comes to them for help.

Charity Works, founded eight years ago by Kent White, is located in a “big white church just north of the school bus shed” at the corner of Illinois Route 109 and Walton Street. From the building, White and his motley team of like-minded volunteers operate a thrift store and pantry with the ultimate goal of helping those who need it most.

White, however, thinks his organization is starting to become one of the most in need, but he’s not asking for the money. He asks for more donations and ambitious volunteers.

“Money is important, don’t get me wrong,” White said. “Right now, at this time of year, we are overwhelmed with people in need of food.”

Charity Works is not affiliated with any government organization and is fully funded and powered by private donations. Thanks to these donations, the organization is able to operate a meager pantry. White described the pantry’s current food supply as “scraping the bottom of the barrel.”

White is concerned that Charity Works has too few staff to address the organization’s current problems. He said three to five people currently occupy the pantry and thrift store, which is not enough to launch campaigns and donations.

Last year, however, White said the organization was saved by the holiday season. A former volunteer volunteered for a fundraising campaign, which helped Charity Works raise $ 1,200 as well as 600-700 cans to restock their pantry. His idea was to organize a Christmas decorating contest throughout the city of Jerseyville.

“We gave every house wishing to participate a tote with a cover,” White said. “People who wanted to vote put cans in a tote. People would go around every few days and pick them up. At the end of the contest, we gave a plaque to each of the winners. Individual homes and businesses (both participated), and it worked really well.

This year, White lamented that the organization was understaffed to continue this event. The volunteer who created the event has since moved to Effingham, Ill., Leaving Charity Works with no one to lead the initiative. White fears it is too late in the season to undertake such an endeavor for 2015, but added that he is welcome to hear from ambitious volunteers.

“We don’t have enough bodies to do it this year,” he said. “But we would accept volunteer volunteers.”

Families in need can receive food from Charity Works once a month. If referred by a church, White said families can choose items from the thrift store to have for free. He said the organization has helped families who have lost their homes to fires or who need furniture and household supplies during desperate times. He said he was grateful to Jersey County residents who graciously donated items such as refrigerators, freezers, washers and dryers, which are essential to impoverished homeowners.

Charity Works also provides assistance to young mothers in need. White said diapers and infant formula are provided to young mothers who seek help from the organization.

Volunteer opportunities or more information about Charity Works can be found by calling (618) 639-5466.

Journalist Cory Davenport can be reached at (618) 208-6447 or on Twitter @CoryTelegraphs.

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