Oak Mountain Missions brings joy to those facing hardships

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

As Shelby County residents prepare for the upcoming holiday season, a Pelham-based non-profit organization is gearing up to help those who have been facing hardships all year long.

Oak Mountain Missions Ministries, which is off U.S. 31 in Pelham, is collecting items of all kinds to help people in Shelby and Jefferson counties struggling to find a job, a place to live or even their next meal.

Every year, the organization works with local agencies like Sav-a-Life Shelby, Children’s Hospital and the Shelby County Department of Human Resources to identify those in need in the area.

Last year, the organization helped more than 3,200 clients by donating items like furniture, clothes and food.

“Between January and August of 2010, we had already seen 764 more people than we had at that same time last year,” said Oak Mountain Missions Assistant Director Dianne Cesario. “We served 554 more families during that same time as well.”

During the holiday season, the demand for Oak Mountain Missions’ services increases dramatically, Cesario said.

“Right now, we are getting ready for Project Christmas, where we find sponsors for children in need,” Cesario said. “The sponsors buy toys, clothing and other items like that for children and elderly citizens for Christmas,” Cesario said. “We are seeing a lot of people who need help for the first time this year.”

In addition to food, clothing, household items, linens and furniture, Oak Mountain Missions also helps its clients with utility bills and rent payments as resources allow, Cesario said.

“We actually had a client who was living in her car when she came to us,” she said. “Now, she lives in an apartment and we helped her to get furniture for it.”

Because the organization accepts clients from dozens of local non-profit organizations, it is heavily reliant on donations, Cesario said.

“Basically everything we have here is donated,” Cesario said. “In the spring and summer, it is hard for us to keep our food pantry stocked.”

Because colder weather is rolling into Alabama, the organization’s most pressing need is coats and blankets, especially for children.

“Furniture and clothing are our biggest needs right now, and we really need coats and blankets,” Cesario said. “We desperately need children’s coats.”

For heavy furniture items, Oak Mountain Missions offers a household pick-up service. All other items can be dropped off at the organization’s office at 2699 Pelham Parkway.

Because the organization has limited storage space, Cesario requested nobody donate used toys, “knick-knacks” and yard sale items.

Anyone interested in donating to or volunteering for Oak Mountain Missions should call the organization at 685-5757, or e-mail oakmtnmissions@yahoo.com.