Longview Community Ministries has been serving East Texans in need for 32 years by providing food to families, coats for children, teaching job skills and a variety of other services.
Executive Director Robin Fruia said making the ministry successful depends on the help of more than 400 volunteers.
“LCM is able to serve thousands of needy citizens with over 400 volunteers assisting in various programs such as Meals on Wheels, Family Service Center, Food Box, Coats for Kids, Learning Lab and many more community projects and programs,” Fruia said.
The nonprofit organization’s biggest mission is its Food Box through which it distributes groceries to families in the area. So far this year, Longview Community Ministries has distributed about 14,000 boxes of groceries to 2,600 families. Each box provides about 12 grocery items, such as canned goods, cereal, pasta and dried beans.
“In addition, we have been able to provide perishable items when they are available,” Fruia said. “This might include fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, frozen meats or bakery items. Each box is different and depends on the availability of these items each day.”
Longview Community Ministries has origins with area church and community leaders, who, in the 1980s, observed inconsistent resources and duplication of efforts in serving those in need in Longview. Longview Community Ministries incorporated on Sept. 19, 1985, as a nonprofit corporation, according to the organization’s website.
In 2005, the LCM Learning Lab launched to help meet needs in providing clients with technology training and job skills.
With the help of more than 40 area congregations and numerous other civic organizations, Longview Community Ministries continues the tradition set by the founding leaders demonstrating the effectiveness in community partnership to address needs in the Longview community.
The Family Service Center meets with each family who seeks assistance from Longview Community Ministries. Requests vary but include food, rent or mortgage assistance, utility assistance, prescription assistance, heaters, fans, dental extraction and medical screenings as well as free basic life and job skill training classes. Volunteers work to identify families who qualify for Longview Community Ministries’ food and financial assistance programs.
As a nonprofit organization, though, Longview Community Ministries relies upon donations and fundraisers to help with its costs and providing items to families.
Among its largest fundraisers, the annual Touch A Truck – Feed a Family is set annually in October at the Gregg County Fairgrounds. This year’s event is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 7.
“It’s designed for children and adults to see, touch, learn and interact with dozens of interesting vehicles,” Fruia said. “Touch a Truck may include ambulances, police cars, fire trucks, cranes, dump trucks, school buses, 18 wheelers, radio controlled vehicles, and maybe a helicopter or hot air balloon! An inflatable playground, as well as many other children’s activities will be onsite for children of all ages to enjoy.”
The Touch A Truck event also will feature entertainment, prizes, community booths, door prize drawings, a raffle, silent auction and food. Admission is free, but a jar of peanut butter for Longview Community Ministries' food pantry or a monetary donation of choice is welcomed. Everyone is invited, regardless of their ability to donate.
“This will be our ninth annual event and our goal is to raise as much as possible for our needy families,” Fruia said.
Longview Community Ministries is currently seeking sponsorships for the event, as well as vehicles for display. The organization is also seeking donations of items for the raffle and silent auction. In addition, other helping organizations, businesses and churches are invited to set up tables or booths to provide information and fun activities for children.
Fruia said more than 1,700 people attended the event in 2016.
“It’s a great way to reach out to those in need when you support LCM’s Touch A Truck event through sponsorship,” she said.
To reserve a booth space or to become a sponsor of “Touch A Truck – Feed A Family,” visit the website at www.longviewcommunityministries.org/documents.html.