A non-profit organization in Scott County is entering it’s tenth year of existence with some big help from volunteers and businesses in West Central Illinois.
The Community Outreach Center started with nothing more than one Winchester couple’s urge to make a difference in their community. Kenny and Marsha Mayner have been involved in missions in both the U.S. and overseas for several years.
The couple, knowing that the needs in their own community were just as great, turned their vision of service toward creating a place in their own community that could be used to meet those needs.
Kenny Mayner says that when he looks back over the last ten years, he can’t believe how much the program has grown in what feels like a short time.
“What started out as a 15 mile radius around Winchester now covers about seven counties. So we have grown and grown and grown, and it continues. I know when we first started our food give away the last Saturday of every month, we provided for 20 families, and it’s now up to between 80 and 90 families which in turn is about 250 to 275 people a month that we feed.”
The program started out of the Mayner home and quickly grew enough that Mayner purchased a building on the downtown square which has quickly become not only an outreach center, but at times also serves as a community center. Mayner says that that outreach program at the center is constantly busy with activities and programs for the community.
“The Outreach Center does a monthly food give away that we call Bags of Blessings, and that is pretty much to anybody. We do immediate need. If we get a call that, say someone has just moved to town, and they are kinda having a tough time getting started, they can just give us a call and we give them enough food for at least seven days.
We have had fire victims that have gotten burned out of their home, domestic violence victims. We also do a Back to School Bash. Last year almost 400 kids came through and got a backpack, pens, pencils, everything they needed for school”
The Outreach Center also holds a Breakfast with Santa event each year, Mayner says that approximately 380 needy children received toys this past holiday season. And the third Saturday of each month, the center provides home cooked “shut in” meals for elderly and infirm residents.
Mayner says that the center has received many blessing over the years, including two from DOT Foods of Mt. Sterling. Through a grant application, DOT provided a 10 foot by 10 foot walk in cooler for the center in order to keep up with the perishable food items the center handles on a daily basis.
Mayner said that already this year, another grant that he and his wife wrote to apply for through DOT Foods has provided another big need for the center to keep the food moving to and through the Outreach Center.
“To get food for the center, we go up to the Central Illinois Food Bank in Springfield. And we had been using my pick up and another two vehicles to pick up the food, and we got to a point that we needed something more. So my wife and I got together on it and applied for a grant through DOT Foods.
DOT awarded us a matching grant up to $11,000 and through private donations from folks that believe in what we do, they matched that. So we went through Marshal Chevrolet here in town and they found us a 2013 cut away van with a box trailer on the back of it that will absolutely suit our needs. We can get eight pallets of food in it, so it’s a real blessing that we can bring more food in.”
The Community Outreach center also was the recipient of a $500.00 donation from the Green Family Stores via an online poll in conjunction with WICS TV 20 in Springfield. Mayner says that when they received the donation, Mylas Copeland from Green Toyota who oversees the charity work, said he had never seen an outreach program receive more votes than the usual charitable organizations, that tend to see more voting support.
The Outreach Community Center of Winchester is located at 31 South Main Street in Winchester. To find out more information about the center, contact Marsha Mayner at 217-883-0359 or stop by the center.
Information can also be found on their website at outreachcommunitycenter.org or via their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/outreachcommcenter/