Heartland Hope Mission aims to help working poor through holiday season
December 3, 2019
The Heartland Hope Mission has been serving the Omaha community with free food, hygiene items and clothing for 16 years. The South Omaha pantry seeks to help the working poor through the holiday season, a time that can be very financially stressful.
“We actually started off as a church when we first opened our doors … and had gotten overwhelmed with requests from the community to receive food and basic necessities,” said volunteer coordinator Amanda DeVries, “So, the church just sort of reevaluated. There is a great need for food. There is a great need for basic necessities just in our own neighborhood, so the church reached out to the community and started collecting donated items. There would be lines out the door every week, and, so, they decided we’re a faith-based organization, we’re a faith-based food pantry now.’”
Heartland Hope Mission hosts a bible study every Thursday evening and a sermon during each open pantry time. DeVries wishes that the Mission’s faith leaves people feeling hopeful for their future.
“When people come to the pantry, we share an encouraging word – a hope filled word,” she said. “A lot of the people that are coming to the pantry are working poor or they’re going through a temporary crisis. We believe that people are going to get filled with hope when they hear the message of Christ. That’s why we share that with people, because we want them to know that … God is on their side.”
On Nov. 16, 19 and 21, the Heartland Hope Mission hosted a Thanksgiving pantry. Families who came received ham or turkey, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, milk and an assortment of fruits, vegetables and other items. This specialized pantry will occur again on Dec. 21 in preparation for Christmas. These pantries were far from normal for the pantry.
“On a normal day, people are going to get a seven to nine-day supply of food at the pantry,” DeVries said. “They get everything from non-perishable items … canned veggies and fruit. They’re also going to get dinner side dishes like macaroni and cheese, rice, they’re going to get pasta. They’re going to get cereal, that kind of thing. And then they’re also going to get frozen meat. They’re going to get milk and refrigerated items, dairy products as well.”
However, the pantry does not just provide food items.
“They’ll get hygiene items,” said DeVries. “If they have babies, they’ll get diapers for their babies. They’ll also get free clothing.”
All of this, from the food to the clothes, comes at no cost to the consumer. The Heartland Hope Mission collects their distribution items either from donations or buys them at a very low cost.
“Sixty percent of the food we order from the Food Bank,” DeVries said. “We can purchase food from the Food Bank for 33 cents a meal. Which is way cheaper for us to purchase rather than do it wholesale through, like, Hy Vee. The other food we get, a lot of the produce and the bread and some of the other items, we get from grocery stores. We have several different grocery stores that we do pickups from every week. Schools, organizations, churches, will do food drives for us. So, they might collect specific items, so that’s how we keep our shelves filled.”
The clothes the Heartland Hope Mission has available for the community come almost entirely from donations.
As the holiday season grows closer, Devries says there is an increasing need for more help and more donations.
“For Christmas specifically, we need toys,” DeVries said. “Every parent that has children that are registered will receive two toys per child. So, from ages birth through 17 we need toys. We need toys for kids, young toddlers, babies, and teenagers. We’re asking the community if they can donate toys, donate gifts, stocking stuffers, things like that. That is our greatest need for Christmas.”
To donate or help, one can call 733-1904 to schedule a drop-off time or come during the open pantry times: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. The Heartland Hope Mission Facebook page also has a link to their Amazon wish list, which is full of toys they need that one can order directly to the Mission. Anyone who wishes to spend their time volunteering during open pantry times can fill out a volunteer application at heartlandhopemission.org.