November 1, 2010

By ERIN WALDNER
The Press-Enterprise

At Hope, Empathy, Love, Prayer Inc., requests for charity have ballooned in recent years.

Founded in 1981, the group is a nonprofit charitable corporation serving the San Gorgonio Pass area from Whitewater to Calimesa. It operates a food pantry and thrift store in Banning and, when funds are available, helps people pay their utility bills, rent and mortgage.

The food pantry serves more than 4,000 people every month.

"That's double from two years ago," said Henri De Roule, administrative manager. He attributed the increase to the economic conditions.

Like everyone else at HELP, De Roule volunteers his time.

Many people using the food pantry have never turned to a charity for assistance and Al Silva, president of the group, said many apologize. He tells them, "You don't have to apologize."

        

Volunteer Rebecca Harris, of Cherry Valley, assembles boxes of food at HELP, a Banning nonprofit serving the San Gorgonio Pass area that operates a food pantry and thrift store.

The food pantry is part of the HELP headquarters, a building on South Sixth Street that also houses a thrift store that helps support the corporation.

People can use the food pantry once a month and are given a grocery cart full of food. On a recent day the food pantry, which resembles a warehouse, contained cereal, canned fruit and vegetables, milk, dry soup mixes, bottles of salad dressing, rice and eggs, among other things.

        

The food pantry serves more than 4,000 people every month. People can use the food pantry once a month.

About 40 percent of the food that the charity distributes comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The group purchases most of the rest with donations. Silva said it's become more difficult to fundraise and that donations are down 30-35 percent in the last two years.

At a recent Banning City Council meeting De Roule said the USDA, due to cuts in farm subsidies, has significantly reduced the amount of food it gives food pantries. He said this will severely impact Banning residents.

        

Administrative manager Henri De Roule says the USDA has cut contributions.

Sixty to seventy percent of the people who use the food pantry live in Banning.

In its annual turkey give-away, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians has reserved 200 frozen turkeys for HELP, which in turn will give away the birds. De Roule said the charity is in need of another 250 frozen turkeys. The charity has a list of 450 families in need of food this Thanksgiving.

Hope, Empathy, Love, Prayer Inc.
Address: 53 S. Sixth St., Banning
Phone: 951-922-2305
Web: www.helpinc.me



Letter to the editor

Published: Friday, January 14, 2011

The volunteers at HELP, Inc. would like to express sincere thanks to all who have contributed to our efforts in assisting the poor of the Pass area during this past year.

HELP, Inc. distributed food to over 4,400 people each month this past year, and an additional 300 individuals were provided emergency assistance during the same period. More people are coming to us for assistance now than ever before.

We could not continue our programs to benefit the poor without the support of our benefactors.

Our sincere thanks is extended to all private donors, the churches and their affiliates, the Laura May Stewart Foundation, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the Community Foundation serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, the Arbor Fund, Eve Forrest and Janice Ortiz for the postal drives, the Banning and Beaumont schools for their holiday food drives, and to the Boy Scouts for their food drive. We could not survive without you!

Also, our deep appreciation is extended to Highland Springs Village, Highland Springs Country Club, Sun Lakes Golf Association, Sun Lakes clubs, Thrivent, and all the business people of Banning and Beaumont for their continued support.

To the anonymous donors who contributed to our organization to help us help others, you are a blessing.

Of course, we are truly grateful for the ongoing assistance of Albertson's, Stater Bros., Donut Delite, Snow Line Orchards and Starbucks. Community participation is most vital to our operations.

Our Thrift Store, located at our facility on 6th Street in Banning, is helping to defray some of our operational costs.

We thank those who have made contributions to the Thrift Store and to those who shopped there to support us. We are also grateful to those who have made articles for our "baby corner," which supplies clothes, blankets, diapers and food for the little ones.

Thanks also to those who made ditty bags for the homeless, and to others who contributed sleeping bags, blankets and warm coats for those needy people. They are so appreciated.

All contributions to our organization give testimony to the generosity and concern that the people of the Pass area have for the poor and underprivileged residents in our communities.

It is heartwarming to know the communities in which we live care so much about others and are willing to share what they have, especially in these financially difficult times, with those who are really struggling at this time.

Thank you again, to all of our loyal friends, for your support in helping to alleviate some of the hunger and suffering among us. We are proud to be part of these local communities. Your willingness to be a partner with us in our mission and your wonderful spirit of charity is overwhelming! God bless you all.

Sincerely,

Al Silva, President,

HELP, Inc.