Helping Hands of Cass County expands outreach in 2020

Published 8:47 am Thursday, December 31, 2020

CASSOPOLIS — Amidst a year of financial and health hardships for Cass County residents, Helping Hands of Cass County was able to expand its food program and other services to area residents because of many donations from the community, officials said.

The food pantry remained open throughout the year serving a total of 4,161 clients with food and many more with utilities, clothing and other needs.

“It’s important to offer people more than canned and dried goods, so we really appreciated the donation of ground beef this year by Florea Farms,” said coordinator Mary Tompi.

The beef will be added to boxes given out by the food pantry.

As he dropped off the beef, Thomas Florea said, “I guess the reason I was put on this earth is to try to help others.”

During 2020, Helping Hands provided seven Feeding America trucks. More than 300 bags of food were handed out to Cassopolis children through the school backpack program.  For the first time ever, the pantry reached out to the Cass County Jail to provide Christmas treats for inmates.

Helping Hands also expanded utility assistance in 2020, as well as supplying residents of senior apartments with cleaning products and transportation vouchers.

“The board was concerned when the store was shut down for two months limiting financial resources,” said board president Diane Seifert. “Instead, we received so many contributions this year, that we reached out to people who were struggling.”

Seifert listed the Ed Lowe Foundation, United Way, Berrien Community Foundation, AEP Foundation, Community Foundation, St. Ann’s Utility Assistance Gift, Florea Farms, Church World Service “CROP Walk,” Cassopolis Police Dept., Cass Road Commission, the American Legion, a private concert on Diamond Lake, and many individuals and churches as some of the donors.