Worried faces relax. Children smile as they carry their new toys. People no longer have to choose between food, utility and their medicines. HOPE Center of Edmond unites the community.

Loyal donors are the face of a giving community. Every-day people enter the center’s doors to find temporary emergency assistance from a love that is unconditional.

A monthly average of 750 individual client families would otherwise choose between food, utilities and their medicines, said Chris Sperry, executive director.

“They are people I see at the grocery store — people I used to see at my kids’ schools. It could be anybody,” Sperry said.

As a public service to our community, today is the first in a series of five weekly articles for the 2019 annual Edmond Sun Christmas Samaritan Fund Drive benefiting the HOPE Center.

Please open your heart and give to HOPE. The fundraising goal of $150,000 for this year will help families with temporary emergency assistance. More than $3.946 million in emergency assistance for those in need has been provided by the center’s generous supporters since 1989.

More than one-third of HOPE Center’s charity depends on the Samaritan Fund Drive, Sperry said. Every dollar counts.

Acute emergencies caused by disease, unemployment, a car crash, child abuse, homelessness and divorce have been the main reasons people seek assistance at HOPE, a nonprofit agency. HOPE also provides a prenatal/obstetrics health clinic for mothers.

“Very recently a mom who came in had ovarian cancer. She used up all of her savings,” Sperry said. “And now with all her chemo and radiation treatments — she was sicker than she thought she would be.

“And so she used up all of the leave she had — lost her job, and used up all of her savings trying to survive. She thought she would get better.”

This is the face of HOPE Center. Clients often depend on the mercy of people they’ve never met.

“Mothers do not have a lot of support sometimes. They might not have family members in the area or friends — anybody,” said Kristyna Cleek, WIC director, registered dietician and lactation consultant.

Providing nutrition support for expectant mothers improves birth outcomes and avoids low birth weight infants and premature births, Cleek said. Mothers learn how to breast feed their babies which is especially important in Oklahoma, Cleek said. Mothers stop breastfeeding their babies early in the state, she continued.

“A small percentage of moms make it to a year, yet the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a year and beyond,” Cleek said. 

Breastfeeding promotes the body’s resistance against germs and bacteria, she said. Mothers pass genetic information telling their baby’s cells how to develop and grow.

“The baby’s saliva tells the mom, ‘I’ve been exposed to this illness so make milk specific to me,’” Cleek said.

Breastfeeding for a mother reduces diabetes, depression, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

“WIC benefits allow me to better feed my family, as three of us receive WIC benefits,” said Jessica, a single mom in a committed relationship. “The lactation support was amazing.”

Jessica’s 2-month-old baby is breastfeeding better and gaining weight, she said. She also has two other children, ages 2 and 6. Her dedication to her children, church and community keeps her going, she continued.

Jessica is a former LPN student from California who moved to Edmond in August when finances became tight. She enjoys sharing her good news about HOPE with her mother.

“I am feeling so good about myself as a mom,” Jessica said.

In 2018 HOPE provided:

• Food for 12,822 people;

• Clothing, household goods and baby items to 9,395 people;

• $288,000 in rent and utility assistance;

• 19 healthy babies were born through the prenatal clinic; and

• 2,470 volunteers provided 14,324 hours of service. This number includes large groups that may only come for a one time special project.

For more information about HOPE Center, please visit www.hopecenterofedmond.com or call 405-348-1340. Volunteer applications are available on the HOPE Center website.  

HOPE Center is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays 8:30 a.m. to noon. Donation hours are Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. HOPE Center will close from Dec. 23 through Jan. 3. 

The warehouse will be open for donations on Dec. 23, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31; and Jan. 2, 3, 4.

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