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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Stimulus dollars bring supplies, food to local families

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jackie Schlesser (left) hands Sue Reed snacks to pack into bags to be given by Mid-Sioux Opportunity to low-income families. With federal stimulus dollars, Mid-Sioux packed 68 summer snack bags, 24 cleaning supply buckets and eight newborn baby baskets to aid local families.
Mid-Sioux Opportunity was on the receiving end of federal stimulus dollars to use for its food pantry in Plymouth County, but organizers wanted to think out of the box.

So they picked up a bunch of bags, buckets and baskets.

"We filled 24 buckets with cleaning supplies and 68 bags with summer snacks," said Jackie Schlesser, Mid-Sioux's development director.

They also packed eight baskets with supplies for families with newborn babies.

"We wanted to make it fun, and these are things most our families can't afford," Schlesser said.

Sue Reed, Mid-Sioux's Plymouth County outreach coordinator, agreed.

"During the summer kids are at home, and that means the grocery bill is higher," she said. "We want to help the burden of the grocery bill go down a little."

The cleaning supply buckets -- with everything from bathroom cleaner to dish towels -- were given out to families on Mid-Sioux's Christmas adopt-a-family list.

"Some of these things food stamps won't allow you to buy," Schlesser explained.

One woman picking up a cleaning supply bucket told them she'd been using dish soap to clean everything because she couldn't afford anything else.

"If you don't have the money, these are some of the things you just don't buy," Reed said.

The summer snack bags were offered to families who have children in Head Start and Early Head Start programs, which offer education, nutrition and parent involvement services to low-income families.

"The bags have things like pudding, applesauce, granola -- easy and nutritious snacks during the summer," Reed said.

The baby baskets, four each for girls and boys, included diapers, baby wipes, and a tie blanket made by a Remsen Brownie club.

"When you have a brand new baby, you can't afford a lot," Reed said.

In total, Mid-Sioux received $10,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to spread among its five county offices. Other counties had programs similar to the buckets and baskets offered in Plymouth County.

For the Plymouth County bags, most items were purchased from local stores, Schlesser said.

"That way the money is going back locally," she said.

The buckets, baskets and bags have been a hit so far, she added.

"We were just trying to think of fun stuff that would help the families," Schlesser said.

Reed agreed.

"I think it's much more personal than handing them a bunch of food," she said.

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