PANA, Ill. (WCIA) — An organization that serves thousands of people every year is getting ready to reopen after closing because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Community Mission Center started in October 2010 and moved into its current location in downtown Pana in 2016. Last year, the Community Mission Center served more than 4,000 people. The Center collects donations of clothing, books, furniture, mattresses, household items and more. Those are then given to people who need them — for free. Families can pick up dozens of items every month.
“We have a lot of generous people that donate funds for this .. as well as other organizations .. and we apply for grants,” says John Metzger, President of the Board of Directors.
Dozens of people volunteer at the Community Mission Center, serving people from Pana and the surrounding communities.
“The number of times that one of our shoppers will tell us what it means to them … it almost brings tears to your eyes because you know that they really do need a lot of these items, and they really do appreciate coming in and getting these items for their family,” says Linda Dunseth, Board Secretary.
A few months ago, the Community Mission Center had to temporarily close because of COVID-19 concerns.
“It’s really taken a toll on a lot of people — we get a lot of phone calls, a lot of people stop by and say, ‘hey when are you gonna be open again?’ ” says Metzger.
Georgeann Henschen, who’s on the Board of Directors, says she understands why they had to close, but she’s concerned about the people they serve.
“The seasons have changed, children have grown and there just is a tremendous need,” says Henschen.
The Community Mission Center is starting to take donations again, and plans to open on July 21 with safety guidelines in place.
In addition to the work done at the store, the CMC provides several programs for people in need.
They have a “Back to School Bash” where they give school supplies to children, and a “Share and Care for Kids” program where they give food to students on the weekends during the school year.
The group gives coats to children and adults in the winter, they collect toys to give out at Christmas and the “Servant’s Fund” helps people pay utility bills .. and covers hotel stays for people without a home.