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Outreach serves county residents

Twenty years ago, Fred Glanville and his fellow church members were trying to help the community, but they didn’t know quite how to go about it.

One person suggested a free soup kitchen, but Glanville had a different idea — sell soup, and use the proceeds to help people pay their power bills.

“People were having a real hard time paying their [power] bill,” Glanville said.

The first “Souper Saturday” raised about $3,500, and the money was distributed to people with hardships.

The next time Souper Saturday rolled around, Glanville’s church invited every other church in Isle of Wight County to help. To his surprise, they participated. It marked the first time all the churches in Isle of Wight County cooperated in an outreach effort.

Soon, the soup fundraiser was bringing in around $12,000, which was distributed to people in the community who demonstrated a need. The churches continued cooperating on various projects until the effort grew into an organization — Isle of Wight Christian Outreach Program Inc.

Now the organization consists of nearly three dozen churches throughout Isle of Wight County, and provides assistance to area residents in eight areas — home repairs, dental needs, food, emergency relief, transportation to doctor appointments, automobiles, home furnishings and children’s advocates.

The organization is a grantee of the Obici Health Care Foundation, which provides money to help it store the food and home furnishings people donate, Glanville said.

“The Obici Foundation has been extremely helpful,” Glanville said. “We’ve taken a step up by having Obici point us in the right direction.”

The organization now runs on an annual budget of roughly $100,000, most of which comes from donations. It provides dentures to people who need them, free labor for home repairs, a regular food pantry and U.S.D.A. food pantry, free furniture from donated items and more. The children’s advocate program provides packets for children in foster care, including emergency items such as toothpaste and a toothbrush.

“You really do change the quality of people’s lives,” Glanville said.

Last month, the food pantry served 312 people, he added.

“The one right now that’s the most precious is the food pantry,” Glanville said.

The home repairs division can do some major repairs, but mostly minor ones. Members also can build handicap ramps, he said.

“If the front porch steps need to be fixed, we can do that,” Glanville said.

Donated cars also get a makeover and are given to people in need, as long as they can afford the insurance on the vehicle, Glanville said.

Many local businesses, including Smithfield Foods, Bloom and Farm Fresh have gone out of their way to help the ministry, Glanville said, along with local Scout troops and individuals.

“People just call you and say, ‘Hey, we got some food,’” Glanville said. “We’re all out there working together.”

To learn more about the Isle of Wight Christian Outreach Program Inc., call Glanville at 679-2600.