ASHTON — They say beauty is on the inside.
At Crosslight of Hope, the inside of its building was in major need of a makeover earlier this year. As a non-profit which serves those in need in the Southern end of the county, there was no money to upgrade the facility, with the focus staying squarely on the clientele.
Then, last year, Crosslight Director Delyssa Edmonds figured out a way to upgrade the building in a way that wouldn’t be at the expense of services to the clients. She signed Crosslight up for Wal-Mart’s Holiday Food Pantry Makeover which provided a grant for $20,000 to those food pantries which received the most votes – there were only 75 chosen for grant money. Despite being from a small county, local residents voted enough times to keep Crosslight in the top 10 as far as contenders, with the organization finishing in the number eight slot overall.
The $20,000 was to be used for renovation purposes and included creating a new lobby space, painting, new floors, new drywall, enclosing a portion of a carport for a much-needed storage area, new doors, new windows, siding, a security system.
“I’m so excited,” Edmonds said. “I love it.”
Edmonds added the makeover has allowed for the actual services at Crosslight to be in a more organized space which makes it easier to serve clients. In fact, the makeover allowed for a significant expansion of the clothes closet where 800 bags of clothes go out a month.
From January through June, work took place at Crosslight and all the labor was donated by local people, many from local churches. This allowed Crosslight to do even more with the money. In fact, it left $7,000 from the $20,000 which will now go to fund the Backpack Blessings Program which feeds 152 students from Beale, Ashton and Hannan every week, at a cost of $1,000 per month. The program sends home nutritious meals over the weekends for students who qualify and feeds them during the summer as well.
Crosslight offers everything from food, to clothing, to hygiene items, appliances and home decor items. Crosslight has even added a special “kid’s section” with clothing, books and toys. Clients can come “shop” for free once a month for these types of items while Crosslight evaluates food needs under USDA guidelines.
Since the makeover, Edmonds said clients are excited to come in every week and for many who can’t afford to buy things like housewares, it’s a unique treat. The place has taken on a popular “general store” vibe where no money is exchanged, only help.
“I know they’re using these items, and it makes them happy,” Edmonds said, adding what makes her the happiest about her job is hopefully making a difference in someone’s life.
Of course, the need never seems to get met in this area and it keeps Edmonds and Crosslight volunteers busy continuing to make that difference.
“Someone needs assistance every week,” Edmonds said, describing stories where people lose jobs or take in family members. “There’s always someone coming in with a situation.”
As for the grant being received and the volunteers completing the work, Edmonds said: “How blessed we are to have the support of those who voted for us, and for the men who stepped up to volunteer their Saturdays to work on the renovation.”
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.