When Vinton Countians needs food or clothing during difficult times, or when the floods come and they need shelter, or when they can’t pay their electric bill, or need help with transportation, CARE Outreach is there. CARE United Methodist Outreach, Inc. enlists the help of more than 175 volunteers to meet the needs of residents in Vinton County, a poverty stricken, rural area in Southeastern Ohio.
One of the primary functions of CARE Outreach is operation of its food pantry/clothing bank. Volunteers are used to screen and register clients, repackage food items when necessary, fill food orders, and stock food items. They also sort and hang clothing. Clothing is made available at no cost to families in need. Monthly food distributions provide supplemental food to the elderly and to needy families with children in the Vinton County schools. Additional goods are stocked and made available to families when food orders are being processed.
CARE administers a portion of emergency assistance monies that are allotted for Vinton County, using the funds to help with utilities, rent, and transportation needs. Counseling is also available. CARE has also operated a homeless shelter, and currently provides temporary housing in local motels when feasible to assist the homeless. Community Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and annual social events such as the Harvest Festival, are important parts of meeting the total needs of the Vinton County community.
Another vital ministry of CARE volunteers is the Christmas Gift Giveaway. This very special project supplements a large number of families whose Christmas might otherwise be very meager. The Giveaway has encouraged and uplifted the spirits of many parents during times of great stress when they cannot afford to put food on the table of buy gifts for children at Christmastime.
CARE has several fundraising projects that help provide for the financial support of the agency. One unique event is the pie baking outreach. Volunteers make and bake 250-450 pies during a day and a half pie-baking marathon. All the pies are sold within three days and a portion of them are donated to the food pantry. CARE also holds an annual Christmas tree sale, with trees being made available to those who might not otherwise be able to afford one to light their homes during the holiday season. Again, all labor utilized is through volunteers. Food booths at local county fairs and other celebrations are staffed with volunteers, and profits provide financial support for CARE.
A Director and a Secretary provide CARE leadership. In addition to their paid hours, both staff members provide innumerable hours of volunteer time and support to the agency. CARE has the unique policy of no solicitations of financial support from any local business or resident in any manner or form. All donations to CARE come from the hearts of the community members and volunteers who serve it. All services and material goods are provided free of charge to CARE clients. CARE is beyond question a viable outreach in Vinton County, preserving pride and integrity in those who have suffered the effects of this poverty firsthand.