GRANITE CITY — The Granite City Community Care Center has been helping meet the needs of Madison County residents since 1953.
The center provides food, household items and other services to low-income working families, senior citizens and families in crisis because of emergency circumstances.
The center originally was known as the Protestant Welfare Center and complements the local work of Catholic Charities.
“We do things that they don’t do, and they do things that we don’t do,” said Mary Earls, a board member of 12 years. “They refer their food needs to us.”
According to the center, the need for food increased 20 percent from 2013 to 2014.
“The bottom line is: as jobs gets scarce, the donations cut down as the need grows,” Earls said.
The great need is evident in the center’s bustle of activity.
“We provide a monthly food basket to 900 to 1,000 individuals,” said Debra Homyer, the center’s manager. “Our soup kitchen serves between 75 and 175 a day, Tuesday through Thursday.”
The food the center provides comes from a variety of places, such as restaurants, grocers, church groups and individuals. Baskets are filled according to family size from bins in large onsite panels. Individuals can get a food basket each month.
According the Homyer, the center needs donations of household items and non-perishable food contributions to meet current challenges.
“Granite City is really generous,” Homyer said. “It amazes me how many churches that are involved and the individuals that contribute.”
“And we’re always glad to pass along homegrown food in the summer time,” Earls added.
For Homyer, volunteering was instilled at a young age.
“My mother always volunteered her time,” she said. “I worked 30 years with AT&T before retiring, when this job came open. It was something that was in my heart. It doesn’t feel like a job. It’s something that I truly enjoy.”
The center also offers services for children and senior citizens. School-age children can receive school supplies, uniforms and clothing as part of a back-to-school program. A Christmas Warmth gift program also is available to families during the holiday season. Homebound senior citizens may receive a delivery of a monthly food box. Medical equipment, such as crutches and walkers, are available for loan.
Homyer stresses that the center’s services are offered freely, without discrimination, to anyone experiencing a crisis. “Everything is paid for. We don’t turn anybody down for a food basket. We don’t offer financial help but can give people direction on places for other services.”
The center is located at 1818 Cleveland Blvd., Granite City, and is open Monday through Thursday. The soup kitchen service is from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Thursday. For information, call the center at (618) 876-8700 or visit www.gccommunitycarecenter.org.