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Helping Hands of Potsdam holds open house for donors, volunteers

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HANNAWA FALLS — Helping Hands of Potsdam Inc., 5868 State Route 56, held an open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday for approximately 60 donors, volunteers and program participants to meet each other and learn about the nonprofit, Christian organization and the services they offer.

From home-renovating services to food pantries, clothing, heat, gas, electric and computer services, the charity collects and donates emergency funds and items, helping out approximately 100 families per month, according to Director Thomas J. Chappell.

“The open house is an opportunity to unite folks from all areas,” Mr. Chappell said. “This is to celebrate what God has done and what volunteers have done.”

Mr. Chappell, who has been the director for two years, said the biggest need for families facing financial struggles this winter will be heat and electricity.

“The number of people in need of heat and electricity has grown tremendously,” he said. “You’ve got to have both.”

The organization is supported mostly by area churches and private donors and has 12 active volunteers and several more who participate for different monthly events.

Helping Hands is open from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday for those in need of emergency food, hygiene items, assistance with bills or access to the Internet.

Mr. Chappell said they recently received $2,000 grant from the H. C. Gemmer Family Christian Foundation in Indianapolis, Ind., to purchase laptops for people to use.

“A lot of people can’t afford high-speed Internet around here,” he said.

Mike L. Berger, Hannawa Falls and Roger A. Hart, Parishville, both volunteer at Helping Hands for computer maintenance and teaching people how to use different programs and online services.

Mr. Chappell said many people turn to Helping Hands after losing a loved one, a job or are struggling through other tragedies.

Along with donated necessities, Helping Hands also offers prayer and counseling for those interested.

“For some people, it’s the first time and the first place where someone listened to the struggles they’re going through,” he said.

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