HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (4/9/13)—Founded by the late Libby Melton over 50 years ago, the Hopkins County Assistance Center—now known as the Pennyrile Allied Community Services-Hopkins County Assistance Center (PACS-HCAC)—has provided a range of charitable services to thousands of area people in need over the years. Yet, as the organization isn’t federally-funded, it’s through support and donations from the public that these services are truly made possible.
And it’s come that time again—time to show your support by donating.
Like the assistance center itself, the PACS-HCAC Back to School Program has been in place for over half-a-century and has lent aid to well over 1,000 local Hopkins County School District students in need of new outfits. In fact, the 2012 program alone raised approximately $24,000 and helped to provide new clothing to nearly 400 area youths—an outcome that shattered their initial goals.
As fundraising for this year’s Back to School Program will be underway until July 19th, the Sugg Street Post encourages residents of the west Kentucky region, especially Hopkins County, to step up and show their support for this worthwhile cause (donation information is listed at the end of this article).
Yet, even if you’re not familiar with the charitable program, the Sugg Street Post was fortunate enough to speak with PACS-HCAC Director Bobbi Wilcox to get the low down on the program and how it has changed since last year.
For the first several years, Wilcox, as well as her staff, which is comprised of several volunteers, collected funds and used them to purchase five full outfits for each participating student. However, they realized two issues with setup last year: 1.) the “standard” outfits they bought sometimes conflicted with certain schools’ dress codes and 2.) surplus clothing took up a lot of space at the PACS-HCAC headquarters at 130 Branch Street.
As a result, Wilcox says they have made a logical change in the way the system is setup.
Instead of purchasing the clothes beforehand, this year’s participants will receive a $50 gift card to Vanity Fair, which only sells clothing. The cards will be distributed to the students’ respective Family Resource Center and will then be given out during an open house event.
“In all honesty, I look for us to help anywhere between 450 and 500 Hopkins County students with the Back to School Program this year,” says Wilcox. “We’ve exceed our goals each year and I don’t think 2013 will be any different.”
While the majority of donations received for the program come from regional residents, Wilcox notes that funding has also come from former area residents living as far away as Florida, Georgia, Michigan, and California.
As the program has existed for over 50 years, Wilcox notes that it’s not uncommon for those who received assistance in the past to come forward and donate as an adult, creating an inspiring “full-circle” effect.
“A couple of days ago, we had a girl bring in some clothing items to us and she said that she had gotten help from us before. She said she wanted to ‘give back.’ Once her kids outgrow their clothes, she’ll bring them to us, and that’s how she helps out,” says Wilcox. “She is one of several that do that, too. They’ll tell us, ‘When I was getting on my feet, you all helped. Now, I want to give that same help back to someone else.’ You know, I used to come here too when Mrs. Libby was still here. I came here to get clothes every so often because we couldn’t afford to buy them new. It just brightens our days when we receive a drop-off of clothing or food and the person tells us, ‘You all have helped me before and this is how I want to pay you back. If I can ever get to the point where I can help you monetarily, I will.’ It really is pretty cool when that happens. It really does come ‘full-circle.’”
Those who are interested in participating in the program are required to apply in-person at the PACS-HCAC office at 130 Branch St. in Madisonville at any time from June 3rd to July 19th. Proof of income from the previous month, as well as social security information, is also required for registration.
“We require proof of income for all the programs we offer. That way, we know that the person or their family meet the income guidelines and aren’t trying to cheat the system,” explains Wilcox. “There are a few that have tried, but they don’t succeed.”
Fortunately, the program isn’t limited by age either.
“We don’t want anyone to be feeling left out clothing-wise when they go back to school. That kind of situation can lead to bullying and can make going to school painful instead of enjoyable,” says Wilcox. “I was always fortunate enough to have new clothes when I went back to school, but there were always those that weren’t. That’s who we are trying to help. Thankfully, Hopkins County has always been very, very supportive of the clothing programs we have offered over the years—both the Back to School Program and the Teen Shopping Program. When it comes to the kids in Hopkins County, I think people are more willing to donate monetarily to help out.”
Donations can be mailed to Bobbi Wilcox/PACS-HCAC at P.O. Box 427, Madisonville, KY, 42431 or they can be made online by visiting www.pacs-ky.org.
To donate via the website—which is similar to PayPal—click the “Donate” tab on the left, locate the Hopkins County Assistance Center, click the adjacent “Donate” option, then following the on-screen instructions.
To learn more about the Back to School program, to donate in-person, to tour the facility, or to apply for some other form of assistance, please visit the PACS-HCAC office in Madisonville, KY at 130 Branch Street or call (270) 821-8114.
Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short