Group collecting food for homeless vets

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

HELENA — A group of dedicated volunteers at Helena Cumberland Presbyterian needs your donations to help provide homeless veterans with much-needed meals.

Helping Hungry Heroes grew out of a ladies’ Bible study group in Calera in 2015. One of the group’s former members, who worked at the Veterans Affairs office in downtown Birmingham, realized the need of homeless vets in the area who had difficulty obtaining meals on the weekends.

The group later moved its base to Helena Cumberland Presbyterian because the church had accommodations to handle the project. In just four years, the volunteers have gone from packing 25 bags of food to 150 bags per month.

“If we don’t do it, there is not another organization that does this,” said Stephanie Harris, the group’s only remaining founding member. “We just need to reach the right people that feel the draw to that cause. I feel like most families have been touched by veterans, whether indirectly or directly.”

Harris explained that the VA office which serves downtown Birmingham has a feeding program that operates Monday through Friday. While many veterans go to places like Linn Park to accept donations from local churches on the weekends, there are some who cannot make the trip.

“If you’re homeless or disabled, it makes it difficult to get to that area,” Harris said.

The small group meets once a month at Helena Cumberland Presbyterian to pack the food into approximately 150 gallon-size bags. Each bag consists of two entrees and two breakfast items. They ask for nonperishable, easy-to-open items that do not require heating, such as canned food, fruit bars, pudding, chips or nuts. It costs approximately $350 per month to fund the project, and Harris said there are no donations or food left from October.

“We are starting fresh,” she said. “We would love to have helping hands that want to be part of (HHH) every month. We accept any form of donation whether it be financial or food items.”

Monetary donations may be sent by check to P.O. Box 418, Helena, AL  35080. Checks should be made out to Helena Cumberland Presbyterian Church and notated for “HHH” or “vet bags.” The church is located at 3396 Helena Road.

HHH will have a donation/information booth set up at the church’s upcoming Fall Craft Bazaar on Saturday, Nov. 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.