With serving 450 families a month in the form of food boxes and other supplies, it goes without saying that any help the Petal Children’s Task Force can get - whether that be from organizations or individuals - is put to solid use.
Such is the case with a check recently presented to the task force by Walmart in Petal, which - although officials would rather not disclose the exact amount - will help the task force with its clients for up to a month and a half. Demaris Lee, who serves as executive director of the task force, recently was given the check by Ricky Chambliss and Colby Rushing, who serve as Coaches on the Petal Walmart team.
“Oh my gosh, our boxes don’t look good right now, and it’s so hard to get food,” Lee said. “So whenever we get an opportunity like this, when the food is there, we can purchase it. It’s a great help to our food boxes.”
To receive the donation, Lee submits a grant request to the Walmart organization, which the corporation honors annually.
“Walmart is always so good to us; it really does help,” Lee said. “We have roughly between 1,500 and 1,700 people a month, with the families, and we have homeless people that come in. We’re there to help; that’s what we’re there for.
“I spent $1,156 the day (Walmart) gave me the check, so that much is gone. We bought jelly, SpaghettiOs and Ramen noodles with that; that’s the three things we got. So it’s great."
The Petal Children’s Task Force, which is located on South George Street in Petal, was formed in 1989 by Lee and her friend Jessie Rowell. The organization initially opened to help one needy family with Christmas that year, when Lee and Rowell purchased food and Christmas presents out of their own pockets to help the family during that holiday.
For the next year, Lee and Rowell continued to help local families on their own before receiving their first donation in 1990, which came from the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce. After that donation came in, several other Petal businesses contributed to the cause, allowing the Petal Children’s Task Force to become a full-time organization.
Currently, the organization provides food assistance to anyone in need in the Petal area, including those who do not have children in the Petal School District. Anyone interested in donating can visit the task force office at 314 South George Street in Petal or call (601) 255-5578.
“Also, this week at Corner Market, you could get a pound bananas and a dozen free eggs with a $10 purchase, and so people put eggs and bananas in our barrel up front (at the task force building),” Lee said. “Then on the Corner Market (mobile) app, they had Hunt’s spaghetti sauce - the big can - for 79 cents.
“We had people that bought that and put it in our barrel too, so all that helps. It takes everything like that for it to be able to work, because we give out so much stuff. So when we get stuff like that, it’s always a bonus that we can put in the boxes for people."