As Christmas approaches, the Hot Springs, Arkadelphia and Malvern Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. presented a monetary donation Tuesday to Jackson House to help seniors and others in need throughout the community.
Each year, the nonprofit fraternity partners with another local nonprofit that shares its vision of providing support to those in need -- specifically, the senior population. Jackson House Crisis Intervention Inc. provides short-term emergency assistance for basic needs such as food, clothing and medicine without regard to race, creed, gender, religion or nationality.
Herman Thomas, chair of the Senior Kappa Committee, said seniors have a tough time having enough resources to adequately support themselves, and have been hit especially hard by the pandemic.
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"We hope that our donation to the Jackson House will help meet some of their basic needs during the holiday season," he said, noting they have a competitive grant program within their international fraternity which allows them to write competitive grants to help the communities.
"And this year we decided to expend our funds in the Hot Springs community for the Christmas drive. So we selected the Jackson House because of their reputation in being able to help and provide. And we especially like to donate our part to assist with the senior members that they serve as well as the veterans and the homeless," Thomas said.
This is the third year for the fraternity's grant program, which has donated over $86,000 during that period.
Jackson House serves around 200 free lunches per day on a walk-up-and-take basis. Tammy Jones, Jackson House resource development and volunteer administrator, said a lot of people think they only serve sandwiches but they actually serve hot, full meals.
"We're a full-blown kitchen, cooking every single day," she said. "So sandwiches we might do once a month but we're fully cooking all the other lunches on a regular basis. We're giving out about 10,000 pounds of groceries to families just from all over Hot Springs. And it's not just the homeless that we take care of, it's the working class, the working poor, basically, you know, and the seniors that their Social Security checks or disability checks do not make ends meet, we're subsidizing and helping them to get those groceries."
Jones said people bring their extra items to the center and they distribute it in a responsible way to make sure the community, friends, neighbors, family members and co-workers get what they need this holiday season. Whether someone has an hour, or half a day, it makes no difference as they are always looking for volunteers at the center, which is 98% volunteer-ran.
"Goodness, it means the world to us," she said about Tuesday's donation.
"You know, there are lots of different ways to give. You can come by like these guys did today and bring us a check and we can usually get between $3 to $6 with every dollar that we receive. So you can bring us a can of corn and we'll put it right in the pantry and hand it out or you can bring us a dollar and we can buy about four or five cans of corn. So our money goes a lot further when we're shopping in bulk and from the food banks like we do," Jones said.
It also helps when people drop off toys for the Christmas program as the house sometimes does not have the staff to go out and buy, she said.
"Our community just responded so warmly with our coat drive that we had last Thursday with the US 97 (KQUS 97.5 FM). They helped us with that. That was wonderful. So we did receive quite a few coats and blankets, but we can always use more," she said.
"People come in every day, as you see; there are folks here, and they're waiting their turn. They let us know what their prices are and if we have the items available that they need and the funding, then we give it out to them responsibly. So it just means the world to us that our community partners with us. And every agency that helps people, it's just a blessing. It's a good place to live, Hot Springs," she said.
Thomas said he looks forward to coming back in another year and donating to the Jackson House or some other charitable organization in the community.
"We're excited," he said. "We're excited to be here and we wish you and everyone a merry Christmas and a joyous new year."