Loving thy neighbor

Posted December 13, 2018 at 6:00 am

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By Julie Ann Madden

It can happen to anyone — losing one’s job, becoming ill, running out of retirement funds — or a multitude of other things can cause an individual or family to fall into poverty.

However, there is help available — from food and gasoline vouchers, rental and utility assistance, home repairs and improvements to health care and health insurance, educational preschool and family development support, and childcare.

Mid-Sioux Opportunity Inc. has 12 different programs to assist low-income individuals and families in meeting their basic survival needs. See attached chart.

Akron Food Pantry

Although Akron no longer has set hours for its Food Pantry, all it takes is a phone call to Deb McPherson, Mid-Sioux’s Family Advocate & Head Start aide. She will meet with those in need and provide them with nonperishable canned foods and/or Maynard’s Food Center vouchers.

People can donate nonperishable items or contribute cash for the vouchers.

Vouchers is the preferred donation because those in need can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthier food choices than canned foods, said McPherson. Also, canned foods have an expiration date and if not needed by the date, it has to be thrown away. Furthermore, it allows families to choose what their family likes to eat.

Dr. Bradley Britton’s annual food drive as well as area businesses, churches and organization are generous contributors to the Akron Food Pantry.

“Any donation is appreciated,” said McPherson. “All food donations are accepted, and people are so grateful to receive food.”

All food donated locally goes to Akron and Westfield individuals and families, she said. The emergency food program is set up so that recipients may only receive food once every 30 days.

However, McPherson doesn’t turn people away.

“If you need food, I will get you food,” said McPherson, explaining all they have to do is text or call her at 712-548-2692.

“The need is there and the community is willing and able to donate to this need,” said McPherson, noting although it’s not actually part of her job description, she willingly fulfills this need for Mid-Sioux clients. “It’s what I do. If you need help, I’m going to try to get you help.”

“I absolutely love my job,” she said. “I think I’m a giving person and it fulfills my need (to help).”

“There is always someone who needs help,” said McPherson, explaining more people need help in the cold, winter months but the need is constant throughout the year. “The services to help people are out there, if not in Akron, they are available in Plymouth County.”

“Anybody who works at Mid-Sioux, they do it because it’s their passion — to make a difference in people’s lives,” she said. “In 20-some years, I have seen that. I have made a difference in some people’s lives.”

Other Programs

Other local programs include LiHEAP (home heating utility assistance);, Back-to-School Program (school supplies); and Holiday Food Baskets, said McPherson who has been serving the community through Mid-Sioux Opportunity Inc. since 1996.

Since 2012, Mid-Sioux’s Outreach Coordinator Nicole Mier has been helping the needy connect with resources such as vehicle fuel, rental assistance and utility bills. She works out of Mid-Sioux’s Le Mars and Cherokee offices.

This month, Mier will help people apply for the Embrace Iowa Program, which is coordinated through the Des Moines Register, and assists low-income families with furnaces, stove and refrigerator purchases. The maximum limit is $500 per household.

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