A dollar will buy a whole pound of food for a needy family in Independence through the Community Food Program. Gifts from Mercy co-workers will help put those groceries on the table in the coming year.
A recent fund drive among co-workers across Mercy will bolster hometown service programs in Independence and other communities in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas.
In total, the “Mercy Way Campaign” raised more than $2 million through cash gifts and co-worker paycheck deductions to support service programs, as well as internal Mercy causes, such as co-worker crisis funds. In most Mercy locations, funds raised will support the United Way organization and its mission to fund various social service agencies. Locally, contributions will go to Independence Community Chest, which functions similarly to United Way, supporting 23 different programs and services, including the Community Food Program.
The food program and other assistance services are administered through the Community Access Center (CAC). Susan Hill, chairman of the CAC board of directors, says the center relies heavily on the annual fund drive.
“Community Chest provides up to 40 percent of the funds needed to buy food for our families in need,” Hill said, noting that about 125 families (as many as 350 individuals) are served monthly by the food program. And in today’s tough economy, the demand continues to rise.
“We have had several instances of families coming in for the first time due to layoffs,” Hill said. “These individuals have been very appreciative of the assistance we provided. A single mother of three came in for financial assistance and received food. She left with tears in her eyes, stating she did not know what she would have done without the assistance.”
While economic realities hit home for everyone across Mercy, with the four-state area experiencing an average unemployment rate upwards of 6.5 percent, co-workers dug deep this year to support their local causes, with many of the smaller rural Mercy communities far exceeding their fund-raising goals.
With an original campaign goal of $5,000, Mercy Independence co-workers anted up more than $31,000 (633 percent of the goal) to support local funds, with the Community Chest total coming in at $7,798. Additionally, co-workers contributed $11,820 for the hospital’s “Mercy Sharing Fund,” a fund to help co-workers in times of crisis; and $11,458 to the Mercy Health Foundation’s “Vision Forward” campaign to support current infrastructure projects and future facility enhancements on the hospital campus.
“I was absolutely amazed by the generosity of our co-workers during this campaign,” said Eric Ammons, president of Mercy Hospital Independence. “Not only in Independence but all across Mercy, our co-workers care about each other and our communities.”