BAILEYTON, Ala.
Since June 2018, the Parkside Outreach Program (POP), a 501(c)3 organization,
has been supporting Baileyton and surrounding communities with a food pantry
funded purely from food donations and funds raised from the organization’s
thrift store inside the A&D Motors Baileyton location. The Tribune spoke
with POP Manager Debbie Humphries to learn more on the organization.

“Our Director and Founder Jennifer Boatright Harlow
and I grew up in Baileyton. Jennifer saw a need for assistance to the needy
people in our area and she has talked for years about some way that she could
give back to the community. We watched people struggle to just get by most
of our lives, us included,” Humphries said. “No help was offered in our area at
the time we were growing up, except for maybe commodities. Jennifer is now the
owner of A&D Motors, one location in Arab and a smaller location in
Baileyton. In June 2018 she was awarded the Cox Automotive Award in the
amount of $10,000, Jennifer used this award and started a thrift store in the
building of A&D Motors in Baileyton. I myself started working at this
facility in August 2018. Slow business at first because people didn’t realize
there was a thrift store inside, but by November 2018 we had an active food
pantry that is solely funded from sales from the thrift store, Parkside
Outreach Program is doing great. We are a 501(c)3 organization.”

Humphries talked about how the organization supports
the families and communities it serves with many different needs and services.

“We started out doing monthly food distribution of
about 35 boxes or 35 families within the Parkside school district. Now we have
expanded and are assisting people within a 10-mile radius of our facility we
now do (under normal circumstances) about 55-70 boxes a month. We also help
those in need with their electric, water, and propane if the funds are
available and they meet certain income criteria,” Humphries said. “We help
people who are in emergency crisis, such as house fires. We also partner with
Baileyton Methodist Church for the weekend Backpack Program, where we actively
assist, as funds allow, with supplies and such that Parkside Elementary School
needs. We also help supply a hygiene closet at the school. I am also a
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) application assistant, I have
been trained to assist people fill out for SNAP/food stamps and always have
applications on hand, I am willing to assist anyone in filling out their
application and sending it to the proper officials.”

Humphries shared more on the food bank and thrift
store, breaking down what kind of items they’re looking for.

“We gladly accept donations of any type of food, we
have a huge freezer for frozen items, and we accept all nonperishable items.
Monetary donations can be mailed to the address above or dropped by our
location, they can also donate through our website or our Facebook page,” She
said. “We also accept, clothes, shoes, furniture, housewares or anything of the
sort. We cannot accept mattresses, older model televisions, used undergarments,
and used cosmetics.”

She touched on how the recent COVID-19 coronavirus
pandemic has affected the organization and some of the adjustments they’ve had
to make as result.

“Our thrift store lobby is currently closed, we are
however still distributing food, as long as it lasts. Since March 18 I have
given out 100 food boxes, this is not counting our food boxes we did at the
first of the month, which totaled 60, plus or minus a few. We usually have two
volunteers that are here daily to help me sort things out and distribute, but
they are currently staying in,” Humphries said. “As of right now we are
shortening our hours until this pandemic is over. Jennifer will be here from
Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. giving out food. We have received
food from The Link of Cullman County, and from various food banks in the area
to stock our pantry. If anyone would like to donate food that would be
amazing.”

Humphries wanted to share a message about working
together through these trying times and more ways that people can reach out and
help those who need it.

“We, as a town, community and county, all need to work
together for the greater good of the people in need. We need to do more teaming
up and more people who are fortunate should come forward and do their part to
help these people of our community out. Most of our families in need in
the Parkside District and surrounding communities are on disability or are
elderly and the live on a fixed income. Some people are trying to make ends
meet with $700 to $1000 a month. With this small income they must pay all of
their utilities and rent, sometimes medications,” Humphries said. “It leaves
them with very little to survive on. The SNAP program is great, but it only
helps out a little in most cases. We as a community should step up and help the
people out, try to fill the gap, for nutrition sake and so the people do not
stress as much. As Hellen Keller said, ‘Alone we can do so little, but
together we can do so much.’”

For more information, visit www.Facebook.com/ParksideOutreach/,
ParksideOutreach.com/,
or call at 256-683-0715. Parkside Outreach Program is located inside the
Baileyton location of A&D Motors at 12576 AL Hwy. 69 Baileyton, AL 35019.

The post Bringing out the Best: Parkside Outreach Program offers community assistance services appeared first on The Cullman Tribune.