By Heather Regula, Correspondent
The Hope House, located across the street from Southwest Elementary, provides neighborhood kids with a safe and loving place to call their own. The facility opens their doors every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.
“The idea for this place started about 15 years ago – we met primarily in the park by Mitchell Circle – volunteers would show up, play with the kids, and pray with them. Now, The Belton Housing Authority leases this space to us, and we have about 40 kids who come here regularly,” explained Jeff Pedigo, Director of Public Relations at Hope For The Hungry. “We aim to encourage the kids and broaden their horizons past what they already know and understand. We are so grateful for the opportunity to interact with these children. This local outreach program is consistent, and consistency can truly make a difference. Love is consistent.”
Jen Sutton, Director of Children’s Ministries at Hope For The Hungry, oversees the Hope House local outreach and two UMHB interns help implement the program.
“We have come so far since our ministry started about 15 years ago. The Hope House opened in January 2014, and we have a family atmosphere here – the kids love coming to the Hope House. Tuesdays are Bible story days – kids run around outside, play board games and have a snack. The second half of our time together is organized Bible study. We partner heavily with UMHB, and several of their clubs come here to help provide a creative outlet for the kids,” stated Sutton. “We host a family dinner for our kids and their families on the last Thursday of the month. We had 67 people come to our January dinner!”
The children who go to Hope House, mainly students at Southwest Elementary or South Belton Middle School, attend free of charge and thrive in the loving environment.
“Last spring, we saw that kids were coming here starving after school and we didn’t have much food to offer them. We tried having a snack wall – where kids could choose a small pre-packaged snack – but that wasn’t enough to fill them up,” remarked Sutton. “Which Wich in Belton graciously signed up to provide us with 40 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single Tuesday, now through May. Temple Bible Church’s Junior High Ministry is amazing – they provide us with sandwiches and snack bags for our kids, two Thursdays a month. I love seeing kids being kids. My own children are here weekly. It’s incredible to watch children from all backgrounds interacting with each other and getting along.”
The children who go to the Hope House take ownership over it, and they love being there and the volunteers who work there. Maintaining a consistent presence in the community fuels an ongoing need for supplies. Monetary donations can be made online at www.hopeforthehungry.org . The Hope House also welcomes community members who are interested in teaching a skill class to the children. Donations of chalk, art supplies, games, sports equipment and prepackaged snacks are welcomed and appreciated. Call (254)939-0124 to inquire about volunteering to teach a class or to arrange drop-off of donations.
The second annual Freedom Fest, hosted by ARK2Freedom and Hope For The Hungry, will take place at Yettie Polk Park, on Saturday, March 3 from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. The annual Trails of Hope Races, hosted by Hope For The Hungry, will take place at CGI on Saturday, April 14.