Crossroads Distribution Center giving to the community

Published 5:27 pm Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Crossroads Distribution Center has been operating in the Crossroads community since shortly after Hurricane Katrina and has a broad base of recipients that Jean Giddens says she expects to continue growing.

Giddens started the distribution center with her husband Robert “Buddy” Giddens in March of 2006 because she believed residents in the area were not receiving as much assistance as those in more populated areas. Jean Giddens said she ran the program from her front yard before being allowed to use two of the back bays at the Crossroads Fire Department.

“We used the fire department for a while, but it became an inconvenience so we moved here to the old New Hope Baptist Church in October of 2006,” Jean Giddens said.

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Jean Giddens said the distribution center currently serves approximately 100 households, delivering to 23 of those. Most of the residents who receive assistance are elderly or disabled persons who are not able to get out of their homes.

“We service an area from the Circle T on Highway 26 to the River Bridge, and then from Henleyfield-McNeill Road to Ford’s Creek. Most of the ones we serve are between 60 and 94 years old, are disabled or have no transportation. We had younger families for a while, but as they got back on their feet, we saw them fade out. But we know there are still people out there we are not reaching that are in need,” Jean Giddens said.

Buddy Giddens said the center does not turn away anyone who is in need, regardless of where they live.

“We would love to expand our service area. Plus, if they come in from another area, we’re not going to turn them down… Now if families start coming in that are working and are not in as much need, we may turn them down. We try to focus on helping the elderly and disabled… But with the state of the economy, people are starting to hurt again, so we expect to see more people coming in,” Buddy Giddens said.

Jean Giddens said they will recommend local assistance for anyone who comes in from another area.

The Giddens have about eight volunteers who help distribute items every Wednesday to needy residents. In addition to the deliveries that are made, residents may come into the center on Old Crossroads East to pick up their weekly allotment.

The Giddens get most of their food from the Bay Area Food Bank in Theodore, Ala., but they also use a food bank in Gulfport and are in the process of working a deal to get food from a food bank in New Orleans. The center also accepts donations from citizens, not only of food but also of clothing, cash and any other items that could be deemed useful.

“We’re always looking for donations and funding. Every dime that comes in here goes right back out to buy more items for distribution or goes back into the center. We’ll take anything and everything that we can use,” Jean Giddens said.

Although the distribution center is in the process of obtaining the paperwork that will certify it as a non-profit organization, Jean Giddens says the lack of paperwork is not a problem at this time.

“We have signed a sponsorship with Manna Ministries in Picayune, and they allow us to solicit donations and hold fundraisers and things like that legally until we are able to get our 501-C3, which are our nonprofit papers. They have been really good about helping us with food also, and in turn, we share some of our items that we receive as donations with them,” Jean Giddens said.

Jean Giddens said the center receives small monthly donations from a few local churches, and other churches donate occasionally, but the donations still are not enough.

“Right now a lot of our operating expenses are coming directly out of our own pockets. Any gas and mileage that we put in for deliveries comes out of our pockets and most of our bills also. We have no office, and I have to do everything from my home. We could use many things, from freezers to cars or trucks to a phone or a laptop computer… We are in desperate need of financial support and volunteers,” Jean Giddens said.

For more information about the Crossroads Distribution Center, or to make donations, call Jean or Buddy Giddens at (601) 772-9029.