Having served on the Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry board of directors the past four years, Ashley Smith understands how important the nonprofit organization’s mission is.
From the families that receive temporary housing and guidance to the hungry people in the community who need food, the facility at 250 S. Vine St., Seymour, helps fill needs in the community.
Just serving on the board wasn’t enough for Smith.
She and her husband, Brad, wanted to do more to help a worthy cause.
Earlier this year, they ran a monthlong promotion at their business, Smith’s Tire Sales Inc., where they donated $1 for every new tire sold. They also had Anchor House’s pink pig jar in their shop throughout February to collect additional donations.
They recently presented a $910 check to Deb Bedwell, executive director of Anchor House.
“We own a business here. We live here. We raise our daughter here. We want to make a difference in the community,” Ashley said. “Having our daughter, I want her to grow up knowing that there are people that are less fortunate, so I try to bring her along when we used to do stuff at Walmart and food drives and things like that just to get her going.”
Brad said they chose to do the promotion in February because that’s typically the biggest month for people receiving tax refunds, and they may be looking to buy tires.
This year, he said the tax checks came a little later, but they were still happy with the outcome of the fundraiser.
The total amount didn’t matter because they knew every dollar makes a difference.
“We just wanted to go see where it went,” Brad said. “It’s just $1 a product, and it could make a substantial difference. Hopefully, it will help other businesses to do certain programs to help, too.”
Bedwell graciously accepted the donation from the Smiths.
“This was just amazing that they did this,” she said. “They came up with it on their own. It wasn’t anything I suggested or was involved in. Ashley just said, ‘Hey, this is what we want to do. Are you OK with that?’”
Bedwell accepted the offer for several reasons. For one, she said donations typically trickle off after Christmas.
“When you get through the holidays, things come to a screeching halt as far as donations. It’s like the giving fairy has left town,” she said. “People are recovering from the holidays. They are quiet times. It’s winter. We’re still feeding the same number of people, and we’re still housing the same number of people.”
Also, since the first part of February, the food pantry has been serving clients twice a month instead of once. Pantry hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays and noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays.
The number of clients served per month went from around 450 to more than 700, Bedwell said.
“So every dime that comes in just makes us be able to do more to be able to give to others, and that’s what we’re there for,” she said.
Anchor House partners with Gleaners Food Bank, Walmart and Rose Acre Farms to receive allotments of food each month.
Since the end of January, Bedwell said Gleaners has been bringing two or three pallets of food that has a longer shelf life. The company also provides commodities at no cost.
Volunteers pick up fresh produce and bread products from Walmart twice a week at no cost, and Rose Acre Farms donates 96 dozen eggs to give away each month.
Bedwell said pantry manager Julie Otte also looks through stores’ sale ads to order low-price items to stock on the shelves.
“We’re being very conscientious of our money,” Bedwell said, noting they spent nearly $14,000 on the pantry in 2017.
Several local organizations, schools and businesses do canned food drives, too.
“Those are our bread and butter, and we count on that,” Bedwell said.
The donation from Smith’s Tire Sales will go into Anchor House’s general fund to be used wherever there is a need, she said.
“It’s a tremendous help,” Bedwell said. “We’re very grateful for their participation and their commitment to service in the community. They are an amazing family, and the fact that they are bringing their daughter up knowing to give back — it’s just part of what’s expected and participating in your community where you live and supporting it — I think that that’s just amazing.”
Ashley said their 6-year-old daughter has donated bags of toys she no longer wanted so they could be given to families staying at the shelter.
The Smiths are considering making the tire sales promotion an annual event and looking into other ways of giving back to the community.
“We wanted to start with Anchor House because (Ashley) is on the board, but there are a lot of things this community could use help with, and we’re going to try to do some more like it in the future,” Brad said. “This will hopefully be a good starting point.”
How you can help
Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry is at 250 S. Vine St., Seymour.
Staffed shelter hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 6 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
The food pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays and from noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays. Clients must provide identification, and they can visit twice in a 30-day time period.
For information, call 812-522-9308 or visit anchorhouseshelter.org or facebook.com/ahfamilyassistancecenter.