It’s more than just a food pantry.
Sussex-Area Outreach Services (SOS) provides clothing, toys, programs and all around assistance to anyone who needs it, and the important resource is welcoming its brand new executive director.
Jennifer Waltz has been living in Sussex for four years as a social worker before taking the reigns at SOS on Oct. 17. However, even with her years of experience, this job isn’t going to be a cakewalk.
The outreach center serves more than 500 households in the surrounding communities, almost 400 percent more than just five years ago. Waltz still remains positive, and she’s quickly learning the how generous Sussex truly is.
“It’s going really well so far,” Waltz said. “I find we have this amazing pool of volunteers that can basically run the entire food pantry on their own. There’s been incredible support from the various organizations around Sussex.”
And that’s including the Sussex Lions Club. Last week the organization held a chili cook-off that raised $3,100 for the food pantry. Other area businesses are huge contributors, too.
“We have people that pick up bread almost every day from Pick ‘n Save and Piggly Wiggly all week long,” said Waltz. “Starbucks down the street gives us their extra stuff three times a week, and Panera does the same once a week. It’s very cool.”
As the new executive director, it’s now Waltz’s job to maintain these amazing resources, dig up more volunteers and get the word out about the services SOS provides.
While many people are familiar with the Sussex food pantry, Waltz says that’s only one component of the huge amount of services she and her coworkers provide. The SOS has toys, Halloween costumes, racks of clothing and endless amounts of information of what families can do when they’re in bind.
And with plenty of needy residents coming to take advantage of this free service, Waltz is taking all the help she can get.
“There was this little 8-year-old girl named Katie that came into the food pantry last Saturday,” Waltz said. “She told me she did some artwork and sent it to her relatives all over the place who paid her to buy them. So this little girl comes up with this idea all by herself, walks into the pantry and donates $40 of her own money.”
It’s the support and generosity like the little girl’s that makes Waltz love Sussex and the group of people who volunteer at the center. With the holidays coming up, she expects more generous people to come forward.
“Things are getting better at the pantry,” said Waltz. “As we move into November and December, people really start to think about others. We have one family that donates 100 meals every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Sussex Lions Club also helps, and as a result, hundreds of families get an entire holiday meal for free.”
Make sure to stop in and say hello to the newest memeber of Sussex's charitable team.