During his working years, James Gressman would sometimes think about how nice it would be to retire.
But he’s found that living on his Social Security income is tough, he said Friday as he patiently waited outside the Northeast Emergency Distribution offices to pick up his Thanksgiving meal, turkey complete with the trimmings.
“I don’t know what us older people would do without a place like this,” he said. “They do so much.”
Gressman, 73, helps support his wife and sister, and they plan on sharing the Thanksgiving meal.
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Last week, volunteers scrambled to fill grocery bags with turkey and other ingredients to make sure that needy families had plenty of food to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Around 100 families from Hurst, Euless and Bedford received a bountiful supply of food including fresh fruits, vegetables, milk, bread and pastries from Northeast Emergency Distribution or NEED, a nonprofit that began in the 1980s.
Vannessa Williams, who is disabled, said getting help from NEED is a “blessing” for those who cannot work.
“Things are so expensive. If you’re not working, it’s so hard to buy clothing, shoes and not to mention food,” she said.
Williams said she is grateful for the generosity of the volunteers at NEED.
“The turkey means that I have meat in the house and the food will last a little longer.”
Williams, who lives in Bedford, doesn’t have a car and got a ride from a church volunteer.
John Bobo, vice president of NEED, said the organization was started in the 1980s by pastors in Northeast Tarrant County who want to “live their faith.”
“We are just here to help our fellow man,” Bobo said.
“God commands us in the Bible to help our fellow man. They just happen to be in a point in their lives where they are in crisis,” he said.
The organization has two locations, NEED East, which serves the Hurst, Euless and Bedford area, and NEED West, which serves cities including Watauga, Richland Hills and Haltom City.
The people who got their Thanksgiving baskets receive monthly food assistance from NEED, and they must meet certain income guidelines to qualify for assistance, Bobo said, as many are medically disabled or live on Social Security.
NEED also helps those in crisis who can come for assistance four times a year.
People can also receive clothing vouchers from NEED’s resale shop, Twice Blessed.
If people are struggling to pay their electric bills and have TXU Energy as their provider, NEED can help with bills once a year, Bobo said.
NEED East works with 18 churches, and volunteers do everything from picking up food and other supplies at the Tarrant Area Food Bank, Target and Sprouts. The volunteers also help screen clients to make sure they meet income guidelines.
NEED only has one paid employee, the office manager, and volunteers step in to help with most of the work. Ten percent of the organization’s budget goes toward overhead expenses, and the rest is spent helping people in need.
“We do as much as we can with what we have,” Bobo said.
“People don’t understand how good they have it until they see someone with very little. That is why we started NEED. We are a faith-based organization — try to help your fellow man, don’t shun him.”
By the numbers
3,984 Families assisted by NEED last year
$914,050 Value of aid given by NEED last year
206 HEB Transit passes provided, worth $48,600 in fares
93 Volunteers per month, on average
9,687 Volunteer hours last year
For more information visit www.need-tarrant.com.