Co-op News

Helping hands

By Brooklyn Learned April 2023

Choctaw Electric Cooperative members go above and beyond to provide a hand up in times of need

Photo by Jia Johnson

Hand to Hand Inc., a small nonprofit located in Haworth, Oklahoma, on Choctaw Electric Cooperative lines, provides food resources for people experiencing emergencies in McCurtain County. Through their food pantry, senior food boxes and mobile food pantry, they served more than 4,000 families last year alone, totaling more than 8,000 residents.

Robbie Farley, Hand to Hand Inc.’s secretary/treasurer, says many of the people the organization serves are either the “working poor,” seniors on social security or single moms, and their income is simply not enough to make it through the month.

“Many can’t afford to buy eggs and have to choose between buying food or fuel as inflation is hitting a lot of people hard,” Farley says.

Farley says for many people, having to utilize a food pantry is embarrassing, and she understands that it can be difficult to have to ask for help. She hopes Hand to Hand Inc. makes it a little easier to do so.

“We work hard to make it a pleasant and non-judgmental process for each person we serve,” she says. “In 2022, we served 303 new families who had never visited the food pantry before.”

Choctaw Electric Cooperative member Lois Kupke says when she first came to Oklahoma, she was a single mom of two children, and the food pantry at Hand to Hand Inc., helped her family in her time of need. She now enjoys serving as a board member of the nonprofit.

“This is my opportunity to give back,” Kupke says.

Her grandfather-in-law, Otto Kupke, was one of the very first members of Choctaw Electric Cooperative. She now lives on his land and is proud to be a part of such a great community.

McCurtain County experienced devastation last year as a massive tornado inflicted damage on homes and businesses, creating increased need. Thanks to the many people that came together, the community has been able to survive and thrive.

After the storm in November, Oklahoma Touchstone Energy Disaster Relief Fund Committee provided Choctaw Electric Cooperative a check for $2,500 to give to Hand to Hand Inc., to help with recovery efforts.

“We were, therefore, extremely grateful to Choctaw Electric and the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives for their recent grant, which will help us immensely with our operating costs for the coming months,” Farley says.

For more information on how to receive resources or to become a hand that helps this community, call 580-286-6383.

The Hand to Hand Food Pantry is located at 107 S. Main in Haworth, Oklahoma, open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit their website for more information. 

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