The Community Services Clearinghouse Inc. has been in operation for 30-plus years as an organization which provides for emergency needs in the community. Now serving five counties in Arkansas and two in Oklahoma, the Clearinghouse is a 501 c3 corporation,and a recipent of United Way funds. In financial assistance, we help working families, families with children, elderly and disabled with utility bills, medication, and other needs on an emergency basis. We also have a food pantry of both non-perishable and fresh/frozen foods for the same population.
We are the best known in the area as the providers of the Meals For Kids backpack program. We prepare and distribute nearly 2500 backpacks of weekend food per week for kids in the area schools. That program alone costs about $360,000 per year to operate. Needless to say, we are constantly in need of funds from donors to keep our programs going. We are blessed with many faithful donors and a working board, but need to reach the untapped donors in our area. We are hoping the PayPal option on our website will attract new donors with new contributions.
Since 1979, the Community Services Clearinghouse has served as an information-sharing agency working with area churches, civic groups and community agencies. Our agency’s primary focus continues to be assisting working families, the elderly, the disabled and children. The Clearinghouse has grown with our service area, and we now offer a broad-based assortment of direct service programs to our clients.
Clearinghouse programs specifically target household hunger, family financial emergencies, and a diverse group of special children’s needs and issues. On an annual basis, the Clearinghouse reaches out to more than 6,000 families representing some 20,000 individuals. Many of these are children under 16 years of age.
The Clearinghouse works with families and individuals facing emergency situations. We partner with several local agencies to be sure everyone in need receives all the help available to them. Our Information and Referral Services help families find the help they need, and our Job Board points many clients in the direction of the job that will help them take control of their situations.
The Backpack Story
Our Meals For Kids program currently serves over 2200 children per week. Teachers and counselors from schools in our seven-county area select the students to receive our backpacks on Friday afternoon. There is no application process for the program. All it takes is a recommendation from the school for a student to begin receiving a backpack. Professional nutritionists volunteered their time and skills to select the foods we deliver each week. The backpacks include juice, cereal, pudding and fruit cups. We always include some source of protein like meat sticks or Vienna sausages, as well as crackers and treats. Financial contributions, as well donations of backpack foods are always welcome for the program. The success of this program proves that our supporters truly believe, “No Child Should Ever Go Hungry!”
We maintain a well-stocked pantry for use by persons needing food assistance. We serve clients on an emergency basis through the work of several caseworkers who interview the clients. In addition, we serve referrals from Reynolds Cancer Support House, public schools, and the Department of Human Services
Our caseworkers also work with a limited number of clients on an emergency basis to provide financial assistance for utilities, rent, or medical needs. These funds are very limited.
We work with a variety of other agencies such as churches, pantries, the United Way, schools, 211, and a host of others to try to find help for our clients. When we are unable to help clients, we try to make sure they leave with a referral to another agency as well as suggestions of ways to help themselves.