The Wake County Community Foundation announced last week Knightdale-based Community Helpers was one of five recipients of a $1,000 grant.
Community Helpers’ president Billy Neal said the money will help with several projects the organization works on, including a new one that makes bookbags filled with school supplies for children.
“We’ve never done that,” he said. “(But) we found out there’s a huge need for that.” The grant will pay for part of that program, and Neal said he is still looking for additional sources to launch the program successfully.
During the summer, Neal and his team also distribute lunch to children on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Part of the grant will also help fund that program.
Community Helpers has partnered with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern N.C., but the food bank can only dedicate a certain amount of food to the organization.
Neal said he tries never to turn someone away, so the number of families he has to serve is often more than what the food bank can provide.
He works with several other food distribution organizations and uses some of the organization’s funds to pay for enough food and other neccesities for the people who rely on Community Helpers.
“We deliberately focus on nonprofits with smaller budgets that are working hard to reach people suffering from the economic downturn,” said Wake Community Foundations Grants Manager Howard Wasserman.
For the past few years, an increased need in the community has left Community Helpers in need of more money.
Last October, Neal asked Knightdale Town Council for a one-time $2,5000 donation. Neal told the council in a letter that the government shutdown at that time was making it difficult to even keep the lights on at the nonprofit’s building.
The Council obliged and councilor Mike Chalk donated $500 of his personal money to Community Helpers as well.
More recently, Neal said his group was looking for a way to get a refrigerated vehicle. The group has to transport food from the food bank and other pantries to their location in Knightdale, sometimes traveling up to 30 minutes.
They rely on coolers, but Neal said it would be easier if they had a vehicle made for transporting things that needed to stay cold.
Neal and his team run two food distributions each week, provide holiday baskets and outerwear to families during the fall and provide other resources to families who may need them.
Other recipients of the $1,000 grants were Abundant Life Christian Center, Church of God in Christ for food backpacks for children, All Things New, Inc. for helping to prevent homelessness among young adults, Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network Inc. for its housing program and With Love From Jesus Ministries for its food pantry.