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C.E.F.S. Economic Opportunity Corp. recently showcased its 45th year of accomplishments – demonstrating that community action helps people and changes lives. During the C.E.F.S. annual meeting, several people and organizations were recognized as valuable community partners that have enhanced services to those in need.
Paul White, C.E.F.S. chief executive officer, thanked Vandalia Wal-Mart for its work in the community. “Without community partners like Vandalia Wal-Mart, it would have been difficult to achieve our agency's outcomes and successes," he said.
In June 2009, the Vandalia Wal-Mart joined the Feeding America Program through the Central Illinois Food Bank of Springfield. The C.E.F.S. Fayette County Outreach Office food pantry began receiving 100 percent of the donations given from the Vandalia Wal-Mart to this program. In six months, the Vandalia Wal-Mart donated 38,089 pounds of food, consisting of dairy products, bakery items, meats and dry goods.
The C.E.F.S. Fayette County Outreach Office food pantry, which serves all of Fayette County, creates food boxes that are distributed daily to the elderly, unemployed and other low-income residents.
The Wal-Mart donations have come at a time when the food pantry has been struggling to keep up with demand, White said. Those donations helped 5,648 individuals in 2009, and continue to average around 383 individuals each month.
Before that program, Wal-Mart had placed boxes in the store to take donations of food and had offered grants to different organizations in the community. For the grand opening of its Supercenter in 2004, the store donated $30,000. In 2009, it donated $25,000 to different community organizations, including Summer Lunches for Kids, Habitat for Humanity, OUR PLACE, S.A.F.E. and Coats for Kids.
A C.E.F.S. Economic Opportunity Corp. outreach office is in each of the seven counties in its service delivery area. Staff members at the local offices are trained in basic information and referral to assist with problems related to social services.
The local C.E.F.S. Outreach Office personnel are usually the first contact made with the agency for assistance. Some of the programs offered by the offices are: weatherization, energy assistance, Head Start, tax assistance, insurance problems, emergency food and shelter, budgeting and housing counseling. If the outreach staff cannot assist directly, a referral will be made to other local programs and providers. This program is funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, through the Community Services Block Grant program.
C.E.F.S.’ mission is to provide opportunities for people through education and support to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency.
“Our agency was extremely proud of what was been accomplished in 2009, and it would have been difficult to attain our positive outcomes without great community partners like Vandalia Wal-Mart,” White said.
C.E.F.S. is a comprehensive human service provider in the service delivery area – providing direct services, referrals and linkages to address the issues facing low-income residents and providing local community solutions to meet those needs.
For more information about the community action agency or program, contact the local C.E.F.S. Fayette County Outreach Office at 283-2631, or the central office at 217-342-2193. Its website is: www.cefseoc.org.