Relieve organization sees significant increase of recipients

Hope Center meets the need for the needy

OILDALE, Calif. - The Hope Center in Oildale has seen a significant increase over the last year in the number of people they support with food and clothing.

 Last year they served more than 62,000 people, 10,000 more than the previous year.

The faith-based organization has become a lighthouse of hope for unemployed and low-income families.

 Despite the increase, thanks to generous donations from the community and a faithful volunteer base, the center continues to lend a hand to those who are down and out.

 "When we think of that increase, we are really amazed how God has fulfilled the mission here. How we are able to take care of so many people and provide for them," said Loron Hodge of the Hope Center Director.

 The business of helping others is booming, but not for financial gain. The volunteers at the Hope Center said their rewards are eternal.

 "It's fulfilling. I feel like I can serve the Lord and use my gifts at the same time," said Jeri Kloepper of the Hope Center.

 "It's good because I know that I am helping somebody in need. The center helped me when I was in need and now I am giving back my time," said Shelly Stansbury, volunteer.

 On Wednesdays the Hope Center is one of many distribution sites for the Community Action Partnership Food Bank.

 "As those sites see the increase, the demand on us increases as well," said Ian Anderson of the Community Action Partnership Food Bank.

 With federal funding decreasing over the years, the food bank has relied on the community to help keep their shelves filled so they can provide food to sites like the Hope Center.

 "We have had many private companies do their own food drives where we get a couple hundred to several thousand pounds. All of that comes in to help us fill the gap. We are always looking for schools or businesses to do food drives for us," said Anderson.

 The Hope Center's greatest need now is not food related. They continually rely on the community for clothing donations.

 "We need good, sturdy, clean, usable clothing and shoes. People can donate men's, women's and children's clothes in all sizes," said Kloepper.

 The Hope Center is located at 3311 Manor Street. 661-399-2119.

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