COOPER - The Hope House in Cooper might be a tiny 240-square foot building, but it doesn’t lack in hope – or love.
In this building those less fortunate can find the nourishment as clients of the Hope House. Volunteers organized by Fred and Tina Overman, former country grocery store owners, help assist in the program of feeding the community.
Tina Overman talks about the work from her very mobile office of a folding table and laptop set up in the First United Methodist Church.
“It is our goal to help those less fortunate and by the Grace of God it could be me sitting out there [waiting for a charitable handout] instead of someone else. …I care about people.”
The food pantry, now known as The Hope House, was first started in the garage of J.C. and Zelda Fisher. In August 2004, it became a ministry of the First United Methodist Church of Cooper and soon became the ministry of the Delta County community as well growing from once a month to four times a month.
“It is a very good ministry,” added her husband, Fred, as he over sees the continuous restocking of the shelves of the House.
Every Monday, he and a small team of men travel to the North Texas Food Bank in Sulphur Springs using their own vehicles, gas and time to pick up the groceries ordered.
The North Texas Food Bank was originated in 1982, by Mrs. Minyard, of the Minyard Food Stores and three other caring ladies. It now serves 13 counties in North Texas. Groceries are donated or bought through grants from foundations. The Hope House and its volunteers pay a surcharge of 14 cents or 28 cents a pound for shared maintenance fee. Each Wednesday from 9 a.m. until noon these volunteers service the qualifying clients out of the House in Cooper, located on Dallas Avenue.
“We take whatever the food bank offers and add to it with other donations,” said Fred.
These volunteers have endured the 106 degree Texas heat stacking heavy cases of canned goods in a trailer to bring back to The Hope House. Just over a year ago, the Overmans joined the effort when there were just 24 families a week and now with today’s economy there are 38 families (or 142 people) a week.
“Every week there are 2-5 more new families needing help,” said Tina. The program isn’t without its regulations. There are limited funds and are only allowed to provide goods to each qualifying person once a month. “We are strict on that, we don’t let anything slide. …They have to be honest and we have to be honest.”
Tina said it is their goal for these to be able to shop for themselves so they can retain their own personal worth.
According to the volunteers, the most popular item is jelly, as it is a special treat. The Hope House cycles through lots of cereal, spaghetti, juices, canned vegetables, cooking goods and frozen meats (like turkey and beef).
Although there charity doesn’t end at the dinner table, The Hope House is even operated out of a donated building. Many area churches, clubs, individuals, businesses and school classes donate goods and contribute finances.
“Fifteen pounds of food will feed four people for four day and 26 pounds will feed four people for seven days – a fact many people take for granted,” said Tina.
The Hope House is always welcomes volunteers and donations. Their future goal is to be able to provide clients with much more in a larger facility to supply clothing and counseling. They are also hoping to offer a community garden for fresh fruits and vegetables. They are hoping to raise awareness and gain financial support to make it happen.
“We care about these people. We want to help them,” explained Tina.
That is why they do it.