Helping Hands co-founder K.G. Ariagno originally told The Cadiz Record the organization was procuring 14 baskets for needy families from Food Giant.
However, by time volunteers arrived at Food Giant Wednesday, Dec. 21 to begin delivering the large baskets, Helping Hands had upped their order to 36 baskets, after several in the community ‘bought’ the $20 baskets in the name of a friend or loved one.
Moreover, the VFW’s Ladies Auxiliary also stepped up to purchase baskets for 17 needy families of veterans.
“Well, things grow,” said Helping Hands volunteer Pam Wimsatt, in the back storage room of Food Giant. To her right sat rows of large baskets — about two-feet in diameter — filled with oranges, sugar, macaroni and cheese and a frozen chicken, among other things.
The baskets, covered by translucent yellow foil and adorned with a red bow, sat on the floor and atop crates of cereal and processed cheese, waiting for volunteers to cart them outside, two at a time.
As this is food meant for a holiday meal, the baskets are also filled with what Wimsatt called “fun foods,” like cake mix.
“You’ve got to have desert with that meal,” said Chris Reeves, manager of Food Giant.
Reeves said he and Ariagno came together mutually to brainstorm what they could do for the holidays.
The effort, Reeves said, was “part of our job as the community.” He said he was obliged to give back to the community that makes his job possible.
Ladies Auxiliary President Sandra Myers, who decided to enlist the Auxiliary in the basket drive, said she was impressed with Reeves’ generosity.
“His generosity has amazed me,” she said. “He lost money on this.”
The Ladies Auxiliary brought their baskets back to the Cadiz VFW Post to supplement some of the baskets with gifts for children.
Reeves remained humble about the donations.
“If you’re going to do non-profit, it needs to be non-profit,” he said.
Helping Hands works on a very similar model.
“If you work on the letters committee, you’re going to pay postage,” said Wimsatt. Likewise, she said, if you handle long-distance phone calls, you’re going to pay the phone bill.
“That’s your donation,” she said.
The model leaves Helping Hands very little overhead to finance, maximizing the funds spent on food for their Food Bank in the basement of the courthouse.
If you make a donation, Wimsatt said, “it’s going to be spent on food.”
Similarly, the food the money buys doesn’t stick around very long.
“It’s amazing how fast the food comes in and how fast the food comes out,” Wimsatt said.
That happens, though, when you’re helping to feed more about 140 families.
Of the families who received the baskets, Reeves said, “That could be us at anytime. That put Christmas in perspective for me.”
And just in the nick of time, “It definitely put me in the Christmas spirit,” he said.