By Christine Foster
“Helping Hands Ministry of Belton seeks to share the Gospel of Christ Jesus by providing relief and resources to every family in need in the community.” This is Helping Hands’ vision and with 33 churches and 175 volunteers giving 23,557 volunteer hours, the ministry’s mission meets almost all their goals.
One of the special things about the story of this ministry is Alice Ramirez, a 72 year old volunteer who, in three years of service, has given more than l,000 hours to HHM. She is their volunteer of the year. Ramirez works in the clothing section where she is responsible for sorting, washing and hanging donated garments.
Proud of her age, Ramirez states, “God let me live through cancer and I give thanks every day for Him making me the person I am. I give thanks that he has let me live this long to get up each day and glory in my gift and meet new friends.”
These are the kind of volunteers who make up the backbone of HHM. Although HHM does not provide cooked meals, they assisted 6,886 individuals in 2012, with 621,700 pounds of food. HHM is also involved in four other giving projects in the community.
Project Apple Tree is a school project that gives children of HHM a set of clothes and complete school supplies.
Benevolence is a financial assistance program to help with rent, utilities, medication and gas. These services were provided to 1,047 families last year.
Bundles of Joy is a project that provides a complete layette for new mothers.
Education Graduates includes 264 clients who completed designated education courses.
HHM received 5,800 pounds of food from the National Association of Letter Carriers in May and 35,000 pounds of food from the 3rd annual Canstruction Belton. The Canstruction project is an engineering competition where all the projects are built with cans of food.
Rucker Preston, the executive director of HHM, is a graduate of the Dallas Baptist Seminary who spent two years in Africa prior to becoming part of HHM.
“What drew me here is the church and community need to serve people,” Preston said.
His associate director, Thomas Strickland, has a bachelor’s degree in 3D animation, but his true calling was to do something that gives back to humanity.
“What we are doing here is our heart’s desire to bring the word of God to those in need in the love and strength of Jesus Christ,” he said.
As a faith based non-profit organization, the January to June numbers are even larger than last year with more than 5,000 people having been helped with food more than 49,000 times.
“He who is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed.” Proverbs 19.17.