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Help Center special haven in time of need

Its looks like any other house in the area — a small brick ranch house sitting off Highway 81 N, the home of the Community Help Center of Northeast Tennessee.
Established in 2005 by the Sulphur Springs United Methodist Church, its mission is to support families in rural Washington County, to “serve as a resource for anyone in our community in time of crisis.”  
Supported by 19 rural churches, individuals and local organizations, the Help Center has assisted over 11,000 individuals since it opened its doors.  In 2013 it served 1,397 families, and 1,429 children; all in all, a total of 3,984 individuals. 
This labor of love collects and distributes food, gently used clothing, bedding, household goods, and furniture, and provides limited financial help. There is no charge. Their motto is “Neighbors Helping Neighbors.”  
In addition to individuals and families, they support the community. They coordinate with the schools and provide school supplies for students. They host a Santa’s Workshop at Oak Hills Baptist Church where toys are collected and distributed to children.
 These events not only help folks in the area, they bring families and friends together.  
All this is done in a very professional manner. The Help Center’s operations are managed and monitored by a 12-member board of directors.
The Charity Check system is used to ensure the center operates in concert with the other charity organizations in the area. 
A small staff of three employees and a cadre of eight regular volunteers (plus the board members who regularly volunteer) manage the center,  process donations and respond to requests.   
After a short visit, it was obvious they know how to ensure the people of Washington County receive the highest level of support.  They are proactive at finding and using outside and local resources. Food is donated by churches and individuals, purchased using budgeted funds, and obtained from Second Harvest and government programs.  
In addition to daily donations of food, clothing, etc., they have several fundraisers including two steak dinners at the SSUMC, a Golf Outing, Harvest Festival at SSUMC, the Feinstein “feed the hungry” fundraising campaign, and an “$8.34 Club” where you can commit to donate the cost of a lunch each month. 
Winter has been tough this year, exhausting many of their supplies and finances available to help with heating bills. Their next fundraising dinner is March 21 at the Sulphur Springs UMC on the corner of Bayless Road and HWY 75 at 5:30 p.m. The price is simply a donation and a can or box of non-perishable food.   
The Help Center has stepped up many times over the past years, helping folks in crisis. Its ability to help others has been a direct result of the support it receives from the community.   
Those working at the Help Center appreciate all who have contributed to their mission over the years.  
To find out more information, the Community Help Center of Northeast Tennessee is located at 1591 Highway 81N. They are open Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.