Most York residents know that People Attempting To Help provides food to the hungry.
Last year, organizers say, PATH provided food to 2,792 families – 7,368 individuals – in the York school district.
PATH President Robert Winkler said that not everyone realizes the PATH thrift store at 35 S. Congress St., which sells donated items, also helps people with needs like clothing and blankets.
Clients are screened at the 204 Raille St. site to determine their needs, he said. Clients can receive food and help with utility payments there.
If clients need clothing, Winkler said, they receive vouchers that can be used at the thrift store to purchase a complete outfit for each member of the family. The store also has blankets and administers a program for children needing shoes, he said.
In 2013, Winkler said, the thrift store served 551 families, or 1,335 individuals, in the York school district with vouchers for items, valued at about $19,500.
In addition to a complete outfit for each person who needed it, he said, the store also gave 264 pairs of shoes, 49 coats, 43 jackets and 59 blankets.
Of the families served by the store last year, Winkler said, 141 had never before received help from the agency.
Winkler said the thrift store had annual sales last year of about $50,000; proceeds pay utilities and salaries for the PATH thrift store and the emergency assistance agency on Raille Street. “That allows us to be sure the donations go to help the needy,” Winkler said.
Cheri Curtin, executive director of PATH, said needs at the agency have remained constant; however, that need is “not at a peak,” she said.
Curtin said that can change quickly after a layoff in the community. “We experience a spike after every layoff,” she said.
Both Curtin and Winkler said the agency marked a significant first last year: It was the first year the agency was fully funded each day it was open and did not have to turn people away.
In past years, Curtin said, the agency always had days when it had no money and had to tell people to try another day.
“Right now we’re able to take everyone who is lined up each day and we’re not having to turn anyone away, but it will probably swing back,” she said. The need, she said, “is always changing, always going up and down.”
Curtin said that when she took leadership of the agency eight years ago, it was her goal to have the agency fully funded for an entire year. That had not happened in the preceding 30 years, she said, and the previous director told her it probably never would happen.
Winkler said the agency has tried to be more active in speaking to churches and making the community aware of needs.
“I think people like to give,” he said, “but they like to know what is happening to what they give. If people know what is happening, or where their money is really going, they are more likely to give.”
Curtin said the agency gave more than $120,000 in financial help last year for utilities, medicine and rent; that figure does not include food.
“It’s nice that people know their donations are making a difference,” she said.