It started out as a desire to share blessings with those less fortunate and has blossomed into a strongly supported program that will help put food into the cupboards of people in need.
People Helping People “is another avenue to help our community, especially at the holiday season, in meeting the needs of the less fortunate,” said People's Church Senior Pastor David Butler. “That's why we were so quick to jump on board. It's an excellent opportunities to pool our resources together.”
The program is the brainchild of Tony Wilburn, manager of Jacksonville's Super Gallo Market. With the support of the store owner, on Oct. 25 Wilburn launched a grocery discount program in which 10 percent of all sales would be set aside to provide food for families recommended by the churches and businesses taking part in the program.
“The way the economy is right now, we saw a need for something like this,” he said. “So it's really not about any one particular person or business or about religion, but coming together as one community. We want to bring our community together.”
As of Friday, 52 organizations, businesses and churches in Jacksonville and Rusk, as well as those in smaller communities like Alto, are participating in the People Helping People program. And as of Wednesday, 2,565 Super Gallo business cards with special bar codes printed on back have been distributed.
Both Butler and Ida Perez, personnel administrator for the City of Jacksonville, praised the program.
“We all have to buy groceries, and for a store to reserve 10 percent of every purchase is an amazing feat, and we take our hats off to Super Gallo,” Butler said. “It's the first time I've ever heard of anything of this nature, where 10 percent (of sales) goes back into the community to feed those in need.”
Perez agreed. “Tony's really putting a lot of effort into it, and I'm really impressed that a local store would take such pride in and such care about our community, to do something like this,” she said.
“I'm from a place where we had Kroger (rewards) cards, and I've seen (different programs) used to fund things for schools or give someone a gas discount, but to put back into community? That's new to me. I think it's ingenious,” she said, adding that she has distributed 140 cards to coworkers at city offices.
Butler, who passed out 125 cards among the people in his congregation, said the program has been warmly received. “I don't think we have 12 or 14 of the cards left, everybody was so excited about it.”
The card can be used for purchases at Super Gallo, located in Suite 200 at 1009 S. Jackson, except for alcohol, tobacco or WIC program purchases.
People Helping People launched Oct. 25 and runs through Dec. 20; food purchased through the money raised will be distributed Dec. 22 to families recommended by the groups and businesses utilizing the program.
“Every person we've talked to about the program thinks it's an extremely good program, a good idea in which everyone helps to give back,” Wilburn said. “We're all blessed, although sometimes we don't realize how truly we're blessed. If everybody comes together as one, we can help our community.
“Our goal is to help as many needy people as possible, and I hope this grows bigger each year, so we can get more people involved in helping,” he said.
For more information about the People Helping People, contact Wilburn 903-372-1346 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Information is also available at Super Gallo Market, 903-589-7654.