Archived Rumble

Women Organize Third Community Resource Fair

Women Organize Third Community Resource Fair

A group of women across several local and statewide organizations came together during the pandemic last summer to make sure people’s needs were being met during such a difficult time. Now the group has organized its third Community Resource Fair, which is scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. May 5 at the First United Methodist Church in Waynesville.

During the drive-through event, hundreds of MANNA food boxes are distributed as well as packets of information and resources for those in the car line. The packet contains a list of organizations and phone numbers to link people in need to those who have services to offer in the community. 

These women have truly shown how a few thoughtful citizens can make a big difference! They recently took the time to answer some questions for our Rumble readers about how they've been able to pull it off and what you can do to help.

Rumble: Who was involved in organizing the resources fairs being held during the pandemic?

Katie Vanderpool: It has been a collaborative effort of several different non-profits, local agencies, and state agencies. The current planning committee consists of Carla Woody (NC Works), Vicky Gribble (Mountain Projects), Kelly Anderson (30th District Judicial Alliance), Lauren Wood (Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market), Katie Vanderpool (Vocational Rehabilitation) and Deanna Lyles (Haywood Co. Public Library). We also work closely with First United Methodist Church to host the event in their parking lot and Manna Food Bank to provide food boxes.

Rumble: What all is being distributed to people during the May 5 resource fair?

Vanderpool: Each car that comes through the line will receive a bag of informational materials and resources (items in Spanish provided as available) as well as a box of food. For those with children, we have an additional bag of resources, educational materials, books, games, etc. We also provide cloth masks to any driver/family that needs them.

Rumble: What all was involved in pulling this kind of drive-through event off, especially with COVID protocols?

Vanderpool: This being our third event, we have fine-tuned our process each time! We now have a list of organizations that we approach to ask for donated materials and informational resources (those that have worked with us in the past, those we’d like to include, etc.). We divide up the list and each member of the committee is responsible for reaching out to certain organizations. We collaborate with FUMC to determine a date and cover logistics (tents, tables, volunteers). We also collaborate with Manna Food Bank to deliver and put together food boxes to distribute to attendees. We’ve reached out to Waynesville Police Department with each event to notify them of traffic control needs. Once all materials have been gathered, the committee gets together to stuff the bags, and we now prepare 200 bags of general information. We’ve expanded our offerings to also include separate bags with materials in Spanish as well as bags for children.

In terms of COVID protocols, we host this as a “drive thru only” event. All attendees stay in their car and drive through to different stations. The first station provides masks to any driver that is not currently wearing one or needs one. We inform them that they must remain in their vehicles and a volunteer with hand them their bags and load their vehicle with food. All those working the event wear masks, and many also use gloves. 

Rumble: Who all has donated to the event?

Vanderpool: We have over 50 organizations that participate.  

30th District Judicial Alliance
AmeriHealth
Appalachian Community Services
Blue Ridge Community Health
Caption Call
Children's Developmental Service Agency
Down Home NC
FUMC Waynesville
Haywood Co. Public Library
Haywood Community College
Haywood County Schools - School Nutrition
Haywood County Sheriff's Office
Haywood Pathways Center
Haywood Regional Medical Center
Haywood Vocational Opportunities
Haywood's Historic Farmers Market
HHSA - Economic Services & Social Work
HHSA - Public Health
Junaluska Fire Dept
KARE
Legal Aid
Little Outdoor Pantries
Mercy Urgent Care
Meridian Behavioral Health
Mountain Projects
Mountain Projects
MountainWise 
NC Harm Reduction Coalition
NC Med Assist
NC DPH Children & Youth Branch
NC Vocational Rehab
NC Works
NCWorks Veterans Services
Ontrack Financial
Parents as teachers
Pigeon Community Multicultural Development Center
REACH
Region A Partnership for Children
Senior Resource Center
SW Child Development Nurse-Family Partnership
The Salvation Army
The SHARE Project
United Health Care
United Way of Haywood County
Vaya Health
WIOA
Women of Waynesville
WellCare
Youth Villages 
HealthyBlue
Veterans Services ABCCM

 

Rumble: What an you tell us about how much the need has increased during the last year for food and other emergency resources?

Vickie Gribble: It definitely continues to grow with time. For our first event in August, I believe we prepared for 100 vehicles to come through the line. We had distributed all the food and had a few resource bags left over after the first event. During the second event in November, we prepared for 150, and we ran out within the first hour! Now, we’re preparing for 200 to visit.  

Even before the pandemic in 2009, NC Child estimated that 41.2% of children in Haywood County were living in poor or low-income homes and that 21% of children in Haywood were food insecure. During the pandemic, the need has increased tremendously. MANNA Food Bank reports that thousands of people across WNC have been thrust into a situation where, for the first time in their lives, they can no longer cover their basic living needs. The goal of the Resource Fair is to get food to people but also to connect people with resources that may help them through this crisis.

Rumble: What else do people need to know if they plan to come through the drive through May 5?

Vanderpool: The event is FREE to anyone wanting more information about resources in our community or in need of food assistance. Again, we ask that all people in the vehicle have a mask on and remain in their vehicle. We also ask that people do not come early, as we typically are putting together the food boxes right up until the start time – Manna delivers the items in pallets and we put together the boxes.

Rumble: Anything else you need donated or do you need more volunteers to help?

Any local agency that wants to deliver informational handouts, brochures, flyers, etc. about their resources are welcome to drop it off at NC Works. We’re asking that all items be received by noon on April 30 (very latest we can accept is 5 p.m. on Monday, May 3). If people want to help volunteer, they are welcome to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or reach out to any member of the planning committee.

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