An organization long-known for helping others in Sedalia needs help from the community to continue its work.
The Open Door Food Pantry and Benevolent Food Ministries has seen a steady increase in the number of people it serves each month and that number is expected to continue to rise. To help offset the growing needs of the organization, a fundraising drive began recently to help meet those needs.
“Last year we spent $104,900 on direct services to help the residents who need some financial support,” Executive Director Jack Menges said. “We received $52,500 from the United Way, which was a tremendous financial donation.
“But when you stop and think that we are spending almost exactly double the amount of their donation, it makes it hard to stay on an even keel if we continue to do that for very long,” Menges added. “We are still going to be here to provide services but we thought that this was the time to ask for help from the community.”
The campaign is asking residents who can to make a pledge of $25 a month for the duration of one year.
Menges hopes to recruit 300 donors to pledge their support by Dec. 31, 2016, but would like to have 150 pledges by the end of this year.
“I know what we are trying to do may seem like a lot,” Menges said. “I have always said we live in the best community there is and if you show people a problem they will find a way to meet the need.”
The Open Door Pantry serves 1,500 to 1,700 families a month who seek assistance for food supplies.
It is the 300 or more families who need financial support the Center is trying to address with the campaign.
“We continue to see more and more people seeking assistance with their needs for food, but the numbers who need financial support continues to grow as well,” Menges said. “I honestly don’t know how a family just starting out with small children can make it, especially if they have a major medical situation occur or if they need major repairs to a vehicle or something at their home.”
The Open Door caps all assistance that a family may receive during a six-month period and Menges pointed out that no money is directly paid to the family; instead it is paid directly to the vendor who supplies the services.
“It is important for people to know that all of the financial assistance we receive we have to account for,” Menges said. “And there are very specific guidelines for what we can and can’t do.
“It would be wonderful if we could provide more assistance to those who are in need, but we place limits on the amount we give so we can in turn help more families,” he added.
Open Door will supply $85 every six months for utility services and $50 a month for medical expenses.
“If an individual comes in and tells us they have started a new job and have specific clothing needs the first thing we do is check to see if we have the items at our store,” Menges said. “If we don’t then we have a clothing allotment that we can provide once a year to help them get started with their new job.”
The Open Door Thrift Store, located at is also a source of income for the organization.
“We take in about 40 percent of out budget from items that are sold at the store,” Menges said. “When people make donations there it just helps the needs of the community too.”
Open Door accepts donations of any items including those as large as houses, real estate, vehicles, furniture and even stocks.
“We recently had an individual donate us some shares of stocks that he purchased at a very good price years ago and a very kind lady has deeded us her property upon her death,” Menges said. “We use items such as that and the larger things to sell and convert to cash.
“What a lot of people may not understand is that if they do this they may be able to come out ahead on their taxes,” Menges said. “The individual can get to write the items off rather than pay capital gains taxes on them if they sell the item.”
Menges stressed he did not want donors to forego their contributions to the Sedalia-Pettis County United Way or their individuals churches because that may limit the amount of support that those organizations can provide Open Door.
“I know it seems like we are asking for a lot, but there is such a need in our community, especially now,” Menges said. “T.J. Hopkins was such a friend and mentor to me and when we served on the board of the Pettis County Health Center and we were working on a project he would sometimes question how we would ever be able to raise the funds needed.
“Then he would sit back and after a few moments of thought he would say, ‘We’ll find a way. This community always finds a way to help one another,’” Menges added. “I learned a lot of T.J. and he is right, we’ll find a way; we always do.”
Individuals who would like to donate to the Open Door may do so through Paypal or at www.opendoorservicecenter.org.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484