The Spirit Of Giving
In the past two months, the Upper Des Moines Opportunity Outreach Center has been flooded with good wishes.
“We are so appreciative and thankful for everything our communities have done for us,” said Cinda Joynt, Outreach Center Director. “The generous contributions and donations made throughout the year have helped us serve those in need. We have received contributions and donations from individuals, churches, organizations and businesses.”
All of the local programs at the Outreach Center are carried out with local money. Joynt explained that the food pantries, including all food and groceries, and programs like the Birthday Club and Christmas Gift Baskets are possible because of local donations. The schools donate canned goods and a number of civic groups and community organizations make monetary donations.
Donations of clothing, furniture, appliances and miscellaneous have gone up recently at the Outreach Center.
“We began receiving a lot of items before Thanksgiving,” said Peg Martini, Outreach Specialist at the Center. “People read the article in the newspaper and responded generously. But now we are full.”
There is one drop-off donation that has drawn special interest.
“Miscellaneous items were left outside our door, including a glass coffee pot,” Peg Martini explained. “Inside the coffee pot was a ladies ring. We’ve kept it, thinking the owner might miss it.”
The ring appears to be of good quality; it’s not the variety that came out of the bubble gum machine. The owner can claim the ring by calling the Upper Des Moines Opportunity Outreach Center at 852-3482 and giving a description.
With the good, the UDMO Outreach Center also receives some of the bad. With each donation of clean, usable clothing there are also donations of bags of dirty clothing.
“We have a problem of people leaving donations outside our doors,” said Martini. “With Iowa’s changeable weather, and leaving items outside, if it gets wet we have to throw it away. And there is also the problem of mice and insects getting into the items.”
Martini said some college students recently brought two baskets of clothes to the Outreach Center. All had been freshly laundered. Others, however, use the Outreach Center as a dumping ground for dirty clothes.
The entryway to the Outreach Center is gated at night, and a sign is posted asking people not to leave items outside. People leave items anyway. Appliances left by the garage door are often not in working order.
Cinda Joynt and Peg Martini have seen an increase in people requiring their services this year. With people laid off from work and home foreclosures, more people are requesting utilities assistance than last year. The number of families signing up for Christmas gifts was also up this year.
“We truly appreciate all of the donations we receive from individuals and organizations, but right now our storage area is full of clothing, furniture and miscellaneous items,” said Martini. “When we start accepting items again, we will start taking spring clothing.”