This GivingTuesday, HCC Asks for Your Support. Your Generosity Goes a Long Way in Supporting Those in the Community Who Need it Most
“It was on Christmas Day – the kids were outside playing, saw smoke, and came running inside the house.”
For many, the joyful holiday season may conjure the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls or the sound of church choirs caroling. In warm, still homes, crisp evergreen trees await decoration and the soft glow of twinkling lights.
For one Lexington resident, however, Christmas memories are clouded by chaos, crimson flames, thick smoke, and gray ash. Several years ago, on Christmas Day, Kathy Meierer lost her home in an electrical fire. She immediately called 911 and rushed her family to safety, leaving her children’s presents behind as they turned to dust.
“The fire destroyed everything,” she said, recalling the day she lost her home. “My son burned his arm trying to put the fire out. It was just a mess. All the kids’ presents burned and we lost our home. It was just such a sad day.”
After extinguishing the fire, the fire department supplied Meierer with a $1,000 voucher, which she used to house herself and her family in a motel until she was able to find a house. Once they were safe, she quickly reached out to people she knew in the community, including Shelly Harden, a community health worker at HCC Network.
In the immediate emotional aftermath of the fire, HCC was able to restore some Christmas spirit. The organization gifted Meierer with a Walmart gift card, allowing her to replace her family’s lost presents. Through HCC’s warehouse, she received hygiene items, blankets, and other necessities to use in the motel.
When she eventually found a house for rent through a friend in the community, she received a fridge and some furniture through the warehouse as well. With a hand up from HCC and the support of her neighbors, Meierer was able to eventually get into a new home and back on her own two feet.
“It was a long journey,” she said. “The community, my place of work, and HCC helped a lot. They were very nice. Shelly helped in any way she could, anything from the warehouse I needed. I would like to say thank you to HCC for everything they’ve done, not just for me but for the community.”
GivingTuesday is a global movement celebrating the power of generosity. What began as a simple day of kindness has since become an annual day of charity, encouraging people around the world to give what they can. This GivingTuesday, on November 30, please consider making a donation to HCC Network to support those in need. Donations to HCC, including donations to their supply warehouse, directly help families like Meierer’s in the community.
HCC’s supply warehouse, established in 2015, houses hygiene items, linens, furniture, appliances, and more materials available for those in need. HCC Chief Network Development Officer Suzanne Smith helped establish the warehouse after seeing a similar model in Warrensburg while planning future Project Connect events. The one-day public health events allow adults in the community to receive free health services, as well as access to necessities from the warehouse.
The warehouse is a 7,500 square foot space occupying the parking lot opposite HCC. The organization works with large companies to glean items that would otherwise go to a landfill. “I don’t mean items that are trash,” Smith said. “I mean items like laundry pods, liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and items like that.”
Companies are required to quality check their pallets of goods. If there is anything wrong with an item in the pallet, such as a spilled liquid or incorrect amount of air in a laundry pod, the entire pallet of goods is tossed in a landfill. Companies pay to transport the pallets to the landfill as well as to throw them away. HCC instead offers to not only take the item but also pick it up and offer the company a tax-deductible donation letter. The items are then brought to the warehouse, carefully logged, and then made available to those in need.
The warehouse also collects items that cannot be purchased with food stamps, including deodorant, toilet paper, and women’s hygiene items. HCC works with local schools to ensure they have these items in stock, and schools often return the favor by hosting supply drives to replenish the warehouse. HCC also collects Depends diapers, durable medical equipment such as canes and crutches, mattresses, furniture, and appliances.
“If we don’t have it in our warehouse, we can put out a plea to the community to see if someone might have it and donate it,” Smith said. “Folks in our community are super generous, they trust what we do and believe in what we do. Usually within 24 hours, we have it or folks will willingly donate the money so we can get it.”
Building Capacity in the Community
“We say, ‘We don’t work with individuals, we work with organizations,’ because we want to build capacity in the community,” Smith said. Organizations that are members of HCC receive free access to the warehouse and can utilize it to assist clients they serve. Over 70 organizations currently partner with HCC.
Patients also automatically receive access to the warehouse if necessary. Providers at HCC not only have patients complete a needs assessment to determine immediate concerns, but also connect the dots to try to identify other possible issues. “We have so many people in the community we serve who are in need of resources that need a hand up, not a handout,” Smith said.
For example, if someone comes into the clinic and can’t afford a copay because they just received a shutoff notice for their electricity, HCC can help connect them to an agency to address that need. If that patient also has a health issue, such as a chronic cough, it may be related to the lack of heat, caused by the lack of payment.
“That’s why the warehouse is so important, because then we’re able to help them meet some of those basic necessities. People are proud – they won’t necessarily ask for that unless we can get around and get those questions answered in a different way. They’re not asking for a handout. We’re giving them a hand up out of that bad situation they may be in at the time. We want them to be able to get up and going again.”
The bigger items, like mattresses, can be a much-needed hand up for those in need of emergency assistance. For example, HCC saves twin mattresses specifically for the Division of Family Services (DFS) to help families keep their children in the home. “When they have a kiddo that either needs to stay in the home, or to be able to go back to the home, those kiddos need to have their own bed and a lot of times don’t have it,” Smith said. “We are typically the first ones DFS will call to see if we have those mattresses.”
HCC also provides furniture and appliances to those experiencing a new start, such as Meierer. “Lots of times, if there is a home that has had a fire, or anything like that, they will call us in order to get themselves back on their feet,” Smith said. “We also work with a lot of folks that have just gotten out of incarceration, who are starting all over again – they don’t even have a home to go to. We start with the ground up to help them with anything we can possibly do.”
Give Back on GivingTuesday
Whether it be a financial donation, volunteer hours, or items for those in need, there are plenty of ways Lexington residents can give back to their community. HCC is always accepting donations and has opportunities for volunteers to help pick up, log, and sort warehouse items.
HCC is also looking for volunteers for their annual Project Connect events. Volunteers guide adults in the community through the one-day public health events, helping them learn about resources and services available in their community. Financial donations made to HCC help fund Project Connect events and can be made here.
Community organizations can hold a drive for warehouse items, take a tour of the warehouse, or request an HCC staff member to speak to your organization.
Learn more about GivingTuesday and celebrate by giving back to the community on November 30.
Listen to Kathy Meierer discuss her experience losing her home and Suzanne Smith describe how HCC was able to assist in the latest episode of the HCC podcast.