The largest food pantry in rural Wake County is in a financial bind.
Billy Ray Neal, president of Community Helpers Service Center in Knightdale, didn’t divulge a specific amount and didn’t have to in making the point the nonprofit is in need of help. Neal said the shortfall is the result of the center serving more people in more ways in response to a need that continues to grow.
“It’s very serious,” Neal said Wednesday. “I go home at night lately and toss and turn a bit, and I don’t like that. I’m trying to get to a position to put enough money in the account to where we don’t have to worry about robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
The nonprofit, which turns 20 this year, is a meal-distribution site that feeds up to 2,000 people over the course of a business week. That’s about 30 percent more people than it was serving at one point last year.
“It’s people who don’t have it no more,” Neal said. “There’s people out there who have had good jobs and just don’t have them anymore.”
The center feeds the poor, elderly, disabled and jobless and their families, which also turn to the center for clothing, furniture and school supplies.
Community Helpers holds Thanksgiving and Christmas giveaways, serving hot meals and handing out some of those supplies. It held a sit-down Christmas meal for the first time in December, serving 200-plus people.
The center relies heavily on monetary donations and fundraisers, as well as food donations such as those made by the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. But the influx in weekly customers has pushed expenses to an all-time high, about $3,500 a month.
“There’s a great need, and we don’t want to turn anyone away,” Neal said. “A lot of them are younger people and their children.”
If something doesn’t change soon, Neal said, the nonprofit will have to curb its services. He said the center would try offering smaller meals before making any changes to how often it serves meals.
Community Helpers, for a change, is now asking for the community’s help.
People are asked to donate household items including clothes, furniture and toys for the center to sell during a yard sale set for Saturday, June 3.
The items need to be desirable or in good enough shape that someone else would want to buy them. Donations of money, Neal said, are preferred and gladly accepted.
To help out
Donate: household items in good shape to Community Helpers.
Buy: items at the yard sale Saturday June 3, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the center, 111-B N. First Ave., Knightdale.
For more information: call the center at 919-266-4050