A grant from South Central Community Foundation will help keep people warm this winter. But the money won't last long.
Pass It Forward Charities received $1,000 early in November, with $500 of it earmarked to buy space heaters and blankets. The rest will be used next summer, to buy fans and window air conditioning units.
"With the cold weather we're starting to have, we're using up the money pretty quickly," said Walt Stockwell, founder and CEO of the non-profit organization. "We try to look at situations where there is a real need. We try to make sure the children's needs are taken care of, as well as the elderly."
Stockwell founded the ministry in 2008, passing forward the help his family received when daughter LaNae was seriously injured in a car wreck.
In its first year of operation, Stockwell estimates Pass It Forward helped 600 people with used furnishings, appliances and household goods. The need has increased by at least 100 a year since 2008, more in the last two years.
"In the last two years we're finding a lot of homeless people and helping them, especially in winter," Stockwell said. "We try to find shelter, food and warmth for them."
He knows of at least five "situations" in Pratt right now. Two single males are homeless, but have chosen that life, he said. A couple of women and their children are living in cars. Stockwell is working to find funding and shelter for the families.
"I think I have some shelter arranged," he said. "Then it's a matter of making sure to keep the utilities on and the food going."
A male/female couple are living outside. The man works, but doesn't make much money. Stockwell is trying to arrange for income-based housing for the special-needs couple.
Pratt does have homeless people, Stockwell emphasized — they're in our schools and in our churches. They don't wave a banner or always come forward for help, out of pride and out of fear that they will lose their children.
"We tend to not want to look out our own back door," he said. "If we see it, we have to do something about it."
Stockwell feels that God has driven him to look and to help.
"I see to it on a cold, miserable night they are inside somewhere," he said. "I make sure the children are taken care of, and the elderly and the handicapped. The panhandlers, I let them do their deal."
Stockwell learns about people in desperate need when they come to the Pass it Forward store, in his job as maintenance supervisor at Skyline Schools, because somebody knows about people needing help or somebody knows him.
Page 2 of 2 - "God tends to do things in mysterious ways," he said. "He sends them my way or sends me their way."
Most of the people helped by Pass It Forward have a place to live, but need help with furnishings or equipment. The charity operates a store, although nobody pays for anything, a repair service to make sure appliances are working when they are given out, and runs a delivery service, with a pickup donated by Lanterman Motors and a trailer provided by South Central Community Foundation.
They get a lot of donated "stuff," Stockwell said, but they struggle financially. The truck needs repairs, it uses gas and oil and requires payment of taxes and insurance. They rent a storage building. They have access to a heated shop, and would like to be able to pay the owner for some of the heat, and occasionally they need to buy repair parts.
"We're very frugal with our money," Stockwell said.
More about Pass It Forward:
• A 501c3 non-profit organization governed by a 9-member board of directors.
• A store is located at 107 W. Fourth
• Winter hours: 11-2 on Tuesdays and Thursdays
• Phone: 388-3673
• Get involved: Annual meeting Dec. 8. Call for more information.