Nonprofits help provide happy holidays

Residents can aid in donating food, money
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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The Salt Mine food closet is hoping to have its freezers stuffed to the gills with turkeys by Tuesday. That’s because Salt Mine will hand out Thanksgiving food boxes to those in need on Tuesday, according to Eric Long, a Salt Mine pastor. The food closet depends on the community to provide turkeys and other Thanksgiving staples to fill those boxes with, Long said. Salt Mine will need from 200 to 300 turkeys, Long said, which can be dropped off at the Sixth Street location or donated on Saturday during the Lincoln Real Estate Committee’s food drive. The real estate committee’s food drive will be at Safeway. Other Thanksgiving items that can be donated are stuffing, cranberry sauce, powdered gravy mix, as well as other Thanksgiving staples. The needs of individuals can increase during the holiday season, according to Long. “People spend money on other things, like trying to get money for gifts for their family so they have less for necessities,” Long said. Residents can also help the food closet meet those needs by participating in the Food For Families Holiday Bag promotion, which continues at Raley’s through Dec. 31. Shoppers can buy a $10 bag of groceries, which Raley’s will fill with $20 worth of food, according to Long. “That program sustains us through spring,” Long said. The food closet received 500 bags of food last year but has received 1,500 bags of food in the years before that, according to Long. The bags are filled with canned vegetables, fruit, meat, rice, beans and pasta. Aside from donating food, residents can help feed those in need via Salt Mine in other ways. “A big way to help us is shopping in the thrift stores because 100 percent of the proceeds go to the food closet,” Long said. “That’s a big way to help because it provides money to provide food and keep paying the bills.” The thrift stores Long speaks of are the Salt Seller at 454 F St. and Salt Mine at 105 Flocchini Circle, which are both affiliated with the food closet. Monetary donations are also accepted, which would be used to purchase food at wholesale prices for food boxes and to cover operating expenses, such as rent and utilities for the food closet. Salt Mine helped feed 8,412 families in 2008, 12,065 families in 2009 and 8,374 families during the first six months of 2010, according to Long. Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center also helps year-round Another nonprofit organization aimed at helping those in need is the Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center. Lighthouse is a nonprofit organization that provides a variety of services for Lincoln and Sheridan residents, including counseling, family planning and parenting classes. “In addition to the celebrations we look forward to during the Thanksgiving and December holidays, this is a heightened time of stress and depression,” Lighthouse Executive Director Angela Ponivas said. “It’s critical that Lighthouse be available to people. The most needed donations are those of money to help us meet and treat the needs of our families.” Residents can adopt a family for $300 a year, according to Ponivas. She said the $300 could be made in monthly installments and would enable the family to “have all of their counseling and resource needs met in the year 2011.” “With community support, we can ensure that no one who asks for help goes unanswered,” Ponivas said. The number of residents helped by the nonprofit has increased this year, which is in part because outreach services are now offered to Sheridan residents, according to Elena Yepez, Lighthouse’s bilingual case manager,. Yepez is in Sheridan once a week providing Lighthouse services. Since September, Yepez said, the “number of people coming in for services has doubled each week.” Lighthouse is also holding a diaper drive, in conjunction with Emmaus Church, Vine Ministries, Kaiser Permanente and Soroptomist International of Lincoln. Some families, when they can’t afford to buy diapers, “allow the children to wear the diapers much longer and that can cause rashes,” Ponivas said. Diapers, sized one to six, will be collected for the next three weeks at Salt Mine on 590 G St. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and at Kaiser Permanente, 1990 Dresden Drive from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The community can also help the Lighthouse by donating money and gift cards for Safeway and Walmart. “At Safeway, you can get gas and food, and at Walmart, you can get food, as well as clothing,” Ponivas said. As far as specific needs for the holidays, such as toys and food, Ponivas said Lighthouse have received help from organizations, including Rotary for turkey donations and Thunder Valley for toys. “We serve about 1,000 people with turkeys, dinners and toys, and we’re really fortunate. We’ll have a lot of turkeys to distribute at Thanksgiving,” Ponivas said. “We’ve already had a lot of people step up with toys and meals. I know we’ll end up helping 1,000 people with that.”