"It could be a church, the Rotary, the library with a reading program, we don't know," Redmond said.
CazCares relies on community support to operate. Volunteers work varying schedules to fill food orders, stock pantry shelves and sort clothing. They receive donations of money, food and clothing from individuals, student groups, area churches and civic groups. They also purchase food at a discount from the CNY Food Bank.
"We want to plant some seeds for volunteers; you don't have to be a state agency to help out in the community," Hood said. "And we also want to plant a community garden in the back. We have a great space to put a big garden to grow food and get people involved."
CazCares typically sees as many as 300 families during the course of a year, usually about 100 to 120 monthly. Challenges facing the needy are numerous and multi-faceted. Low paying jobs, lack of education, health problems and disabilities combined with the rising cost of survival can severely affect families with little or no means. CazCares recognizes a key word, respect. They don't question or judge why a client is there. Unfortunately, they've come to know many individuals and families on a first name basis through years of service.
25 years of service
In 1982 the pastors from six local churches began CazCares in an effort to address the pressing needs of the rural poor. The pantry started in two rooms in the lower level of the Atwell Mill. In 1983 the food pantries in Madison County organized as a means of networking under the Community Action Program. Cazcares is still part of that network.
CazCares is open from 9:30 a.m. to noon Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. They accept all donations of food and clothing during these hours. Food items should not be outdated. Clothing should be clean, wearable and practical.