By Alan Reed
Tribune-Courier News Editor
Heading toward the holiday season of charity, Marshall County Caring Needline faces more demand and less supply of assistance than ever before.
Becky Cornwell, Needline’s administrator, said the ongoing recession forced more people into the unemployment line.
“People who were regular donors before are now clients,” Cornwell said.
Needline offers three food programs. The first is for income-eligible seniors over age 60. The second program is temporary assistance for income-eligible Marshall County residents. Both these programs receive food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Foods Program.
The third program is Needline’s food bank. Needline offers donated food or foods purchased with
donated money to clients.
“We work to make our clients responsible for themselves, and the program is not abused,” Cornwell said. “We screen our clients and understand they may be facing the loss of a job, medical issues or expenses or vehicle problems that create an ongoing hardship.”
Needline serves between 750 and 900 clients every month and continues to grow, Cornwell said.
“This time of year, we are normally low on supplies, but it’s lower now than I remember in all the time I’ve been here, and I’ve been here 15 years,” Cornwell said.
Funding for the federal programs have also decreased meaning less food for clients. Cornwell said the programs began with a single dump-truck hauling food from Mayfield. It grew to several trucks, then to a semi-trailer. Now, she said food assistance is about one-fifth of its peak availability.
“One thing we do is honor our elderly and shut-ins, especially during the holidays,” Cornwell said. “So often these people get forgotten, especially during the holidays. Everyone wants to help children around Christmas. We do help children, but we get gift bags for the elderly. Sometimes, I think their smiles are bigger than the children’s.”
Though receiving some funding from agencies like the United Way and the United Fund Drive in Calvert City, most Needline funds come from private donations from individuals, churches and civic groups. Donations have fallen with the recession, Cornwell said. Needline held a fundraising dinner after The Tribune-Courier’s press time on Monday.
Future fundraisers include the Christmas light show at Mike Miller Park in Draffenville. Beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving, Needline will collect monetary donations and non-perishable food from park guests viewing Christmas light displays.
Venita Fritz, general manager of The Tribune Courier, said the newspaper will partner with WCBL radio for the third-annual, Feed the Need food drive.
“We will be collecting donations of food at Marshall County grocery stores on Nov. 3,” Fritz said. “All food donations will be given to Needline to help stock their pantry for a busy holiday season.”
Fritz said items needed for the drive include canned goods and non-perishable foods.
Cornwell said upcoming campaigns include distributing food baskets to needy families for Thanksgiving, and the Christmas gifts and food for the elderly and needy families.
Monetary onations may be sent to P.O. Box 36, Benton, Ky. 42025. Donations of food, clothing or functioning household items may be delivered to Needline’s office at 307 Main Street in Benton from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays. Cornwell added Needline always appreciates volunteers. For more information, call 270-527-0024. Needline is classified as a 501.C3 non-profit group and monetary contributions are tax-deductible.