By Sarrah Peters
The Etowah Baptist Mission Center has worked to help meet every citizen’s needs.
The center provides food via the food pantry, where volunteers bag up the appropriate food for the family. During the holidays the center also provides food baskets filled with all the makings for a traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.
For Christmas, the center also adopts families, providing them with toys from the “toy shop” set up in one of the center’s three buildings.
The shops allow the families to select the items they would like. The center also provides clothes that clients can choose from a store that the volunteers set up from donated items.
The center can also provide household items, like dishes, small kitchen appliances, hygiene products and linens, in the case of emergency situations.
The center even helps expecting mothers with necessary items during a monthly baby shower. Clients with children are given “birthday bags,” with supplies for parties and a gift for the child. The center also provides clients with school supplies at the end of summer.
Financial assistance is limited, but available to help those in dire need get identification, prescription assistance, transportation assistance and help with utilities and rent.
Of course as a mission center, the volunteers are also there to help with clients spiritual and emotional needs. There are chaplains on duty for spiritual questions and spiritual literature is given regularly.
The center began almost 30 years ago when a handful of people from different churches decided to distribute basics. Then, the center was only open two or three days a week and served about 15 people each week. The center has grown a lot since then. It is now open five days a week and assists 25 to 30 people a day. The center has also grown from one building to three buildings, and space is getting tight.
“We don’t have means of sheltering, which is a prayer request,” said Ashley Baccas, the center’s administrative assistant and volunteer coordinator.
The center would like to purchase the building next door that has two apartments upstairs.
The center runs due to help from volunteers and donations from the community. The center hosts two main fundraisers a year. The center holds a soup lunch annually. For a $10 donation, attendees are treated to a lunch of soup and a sandwich.
The newest fundraiser is a cardboard boat race. Participants build boats out of cardboard and race them. The idea is to keep the boats from sinking. Entry in the race is free, but money is raised from concession and tee shirt sales. The tee shirts are donated by Exchange Bank.
There are many ways to help the Etowah Baptist Mission Center. Volunteers and donations are always welcome.
For more information, visit www.etowahbaptistmissioncenter.com or visit the center at 221 Wall Street in Gadsden.