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Sue Guinn Legg

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slegg@johnsoncitypress.com
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Columns Good Neighbor

New pantry providing food assistance in Carter County

June 5th, 2014 8:40 am by Sue Guinn Legg

New pantry providing food assistance in Carter County

There’s a new nonprofit food pantry in Elizabethton working hard to meet the need for food in Carter County.
Open since March at 1180 Old Bristol Highway in the Biltmore community, Tri-Cities Help is taking a fresh approach to assisting people who do not always have the means to buy needed groceries.
Rather than handing a family or an individual in need a pre-packed box of food items with whatever produce, meat, dairy or baked goods may be available, Rebecca Hanzl, Tri-Cities Help’s founder and president, said the pantry allows the people it helps the opportunity to do their own shopping.
According to Hanzl, income-eligible individuals and families who come to the pantry are assigned points based on their need, income and the number of people in their household. Each item on the pantry’s shelves is marked with a point value based on its nutritional content. To help its clients use their points wisely and also to allow them to splurge on a sweet or treat for themselves or their children, Hanzl said, “the healthier the food item the lower the point value.”
“We have eggs, milk, cheese and meat as well when we can get it. But we also have cakes and junk food items too for those with a sweet tooth. It’s their choice,” she said. “We’re not just handing them a box. People come in with their kids and they’re happy just to be able to shop.”
The popularity of the pantry and the need it is meeting is evidenced by the numbers served. In the three months the pantry has been open, Hanzl said it has averaged 500 individuals assisted each week and approximately 2,000 pounds of food distributed daily.
Applications for assistance and daily updates on what’s available at the pantry can be found at the Tri-Cities Help Facebook page, which has already garnered a following of more than 68,000 fans. Information also may be obtained by calling 707-0030.
The pantry’s website is still under construction at www.tri-citieshelp.org but its menus are already up and running with information, including how to register for help, how to volunteer and how to donate.
Tri-Cities Help is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and financial contributions are tax deductible. While its base of community support and volunteers is growing, its supplies are depleted almost as quickly as they come in.
“To help that many people we do need financial help from the community,” Hanzl said. Community food drives have been a tremendous help and Hanzl expressed special appreciation for the Bojangles restaurant on West Elk Avenue, which is accepting food donations for the pantry.
Others who wish to help may drop off food donations at the pantry Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. but are asked to call or check the Tri-Cities Help Facebook page for early closings that occur whenever food runs out.
Monetary donations may be made by mail to Tri-Cities Help, 1180 Old Bristol Highway, Elizabethton, TN 37643.

Eastern Eight Community Development Corp. is registering volunteers for three-days of hands-on home building to help low-income residents and military veterans across Northeast Tennessee realize the dream of home ownership.
Lend a Hand Days work projects will be conducted June 12-14 at Eastern Eight construction sites in Happy Valley and Johnson City. Held in conjunction with national Neighbors Work Week, the local projects will kick off June 12 at the future home of Ben Jones, a young veteran with service-related disabilities who will soon take up residence in the new Patriot Place subdivision under construction near Happy Valley High School.
Chuck Mason, Eastern Eight’s director of public relations and marketing, said work on the home’s foundation is underway and with good weather and good luck, volunteers will be able to lend a hand to the construction of its floors and framing. If not, Mason said there will be plenty of landscaping projects at Jones’ home and elsewhere around the neighborhood and at the Village at Kings Springs and other Eastern Eight home sites in Johnson City.
Food for the volunteers and event T-shirts for those who register early will be provided and WXBQ radio will be on site broadcasting live from Patriot Place on June 12 to help raise awareness of the federal housing grants of up to $25,000 available to help veterans and their families and other low-income individuals become home owners.
Volunteers interested in a lending a hand may call Emily Morris at 232-2044 or email eMorris@E8cdc.org to register or for more information. More information about Eastern Eight home ownership opportunities can be found online at e8cdc.org.

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.

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