Rushville Republican

April 4, 2013

Mauzy: County food pantry defines essence of community spirit

Jean Mauzy
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — In a somewhat overlooked portion of Rush County, gatherings of capable hands work together for a greater cause of serving a community. While it is common to assume that the term “community” refers to an immediate township or closest vicinity, the efforts of an organization situated in the town of Carthage reach far beyond its boundaries to serve residents across the county, including 200 households in Rushville Township alone.

Noting that Rush County has many worthy clubs and organizations that help to fulfill needs of local residents, the Carthage pantry, Blue River Community Harvest, Inc., offers a unique perspective on how any person can help fulfill needs of people in a community.

Beginning in 2008, the attic of Walnut Ridge Church became a temporary location to serve several families in need of assistance. The significance of helping others does not rest on the church itself but rather on a woman who wanted to pay-forward a similar form of community spirit that she had received while growing up. Who better to understand the gratitude, grief, or even pride involved in securing everyday necessities such as food or clothing than one who had been in need of such assistance before. A story of human nature and of blessings begins with a vow to return a favor.

Only through the goodness and giving of other people has a small gesture of serving a handful of families from a church attic turned into a large endeavor where many families are provided with food and clothing on a monthly basis. Considering that this group uses no government funding, it is then quite a feat to be able to grow and serve when you must solely rely on donations and volunteerism. At first thought, one might think that it would be easy to simply take in food or clothing donations and then pass the items out but in reality that is far from the case. The donations must keep coming. It cannot be a one-time deal where people give and then forget. Likewise, there are other costs associated with such an endeavor.

When I think about the implications of operating such an organization, it may be unnerving to say the least. What if the people of the community stopped giving or stopped caring? What if no one came to help? What if expenses couldn’t be met?  I’ll tell you what might likely happen, community spirit may wither and blessings may die. In the spiritual sense of our human existence, what, or who, are we if we cannot see past our own wants, needs, and desires. Sharing of our good fortunes is how we bond with our neighbors to create healthy communities. Essentially, we show who we are by what we do and how we live.

The purpose of my writing here is really twofold. I think it’s important for residents of an area, Rush County as an entire community, to do the things that help, not hinder the wellbeing of everything we are or what we stand for. Additionally, I think the story of Blue River Community Harvest nicely displays how simple acts of caring and sharing can and do evolve into grander things.

I’ll end with a condensed form of how, when we work together, things often fall into place; one thing leads to another.

A small food pantry begins in a church attic but the need grows to serve more families and also to obtain a larger distribution center. Nearby sits an unused former farm-implement building that can be rented and that also has the space needed to take in, store, and distribute the goods.

Funds are needed to cover business overhead and so fundraisers are held. Word-of-mouth promotion of the pantry prompts various Indianapolis-area broadcasters and a former Colts player to speak at the events. One speaker needs pay for her service and one corporate sponsor takes it upon herself to spread the word to other businesspersons she knows. People in attendance are touched by the stories they hear while at the fundraising events and so they vow to become involved.

Seventy families show up within a three-hour time span on an October day, depleting the food supply, but one person’s plea via Facebook brings an immediate response to quickly replenish the stock.

In the end, the bills get paid, the shelves get stocked with food and clothing and all this happens because one person, either by words or actions, touched another in some way.

The full story of this fine group is rich with instances of grand like gestures but space restricts the re-telling here. An interested person can learn more about Blue River Community Harvest on their Facebook page or by calling 765-565-6960. The next fundraising event is April 19 at the Harvest building, 9462 N. Carthage Pike. Guest speaker at the event will be Indiana Fever coach, Linn Dunn.