By Conrad Dudderar
There’s been plenty of giving with compassion this Christmas season as a Yukon non-profit ministry reminds the public that people need help all year long.
Compassionate Hands and its clients have benefitted from recent holiday gifts provided by local schools, churches, civic groups, and philanthropic organizations.
“We’ve truly been blessed by what we receive from our community to help those we serve,” Compassionate Hands’ director Joanne Riley said. “Yukon has always been generous, especially this time of year, and it’s something we really appreciate.
“But please remember that people are struggling all year long, not just around Christmas.”
Homeless people in downtown Yukon frequently come to Compassionate Hands asking for help, Riley noted.
Compassionate Hands, founded in 1994, is a faith-based nonprofit ministry that helps struggling families and individuals with emergency rent and utility assistance, prescriptions, personal and baby needs.
This service agency offers an accessible “Care-A-Van” service to transport senior citizens and residents with disabilities to medical appointments and personal errands.
The most recent gifts to Compassionate Hands came Dec. 16 when sixth graders from Yukon’s Southwest Covenant Schools gave personal hygiene items, laundry soap, socks, and cleaning supplies.
“Every year, the sixth-grade class has a drive to gather up items needed to serve our community,” Riley said.
Students of teachers Jennifer Shields and Katie Janzen brought a copious quantity of items to the Compassionate Hands’ office, 119 S 6th, to present the annual gift.
“It was a lot of stuff,” Riley summarized.
Also recently, members of the Oklahoma Zeta Chapter of Delta Theta Chi Sorority presented Christmas gift packages to those who ride the two wheelchair-accessible vans.
“They gathered up warm socks, food, personal care items, and more to give gifts to seniors,” Riley explained. “The van drivers will present them to the riders.”
Since May, sorority member Lynn Yenzer has volunteered as a Care-A-Van driver.
“Our purpose is to promote cultural education, foster personal development and good citizenship, to form a nationwide fellowship, to attain a broader outlook and enjoyment of contact with those of similar purposes and ideals,” Yenzer said.
Compassionate Hands continues to benefit from monetary contributions – large and small – provided through its annual year-end giving campaign. Some $7,000 has been collected so far.
These gifts will be matched up to $3,000 by Donna Yanda of Yanda & Son Funeral Home, whose late husband Anton “Corky” Yanda III started the Care-A-Van program in mid-1990s with Alberta French and Carol Schweitzer.
Sustainable funding for Compassionate Hands’ operations comes through grants and continuing donations. Recent grant awards include $10,000 from the Sarkeys Foundation and $1,720 from the Canadian Valley Technology Center Foundation.
In response to Christ’s mission to help others, Compassionate Hands serves people in temporary crisis by addressing immediate needs, fostering hope and encouraging positive life change.
The organization is led by director Riley and an all-volunteer board of directors. New board members in 2022 will be Amy Beams, Jason DeGroot, Rosalia Pecina, and Keith Henson.
The new executive committee will be Chairman David Murphy, Vice Chairman Woody Burpo, Treasurer Lisa Everly, and Secretary Janis Thomas.
Other board members are Ray Rhoton, Amy Bowles, Michael McEachern, Homer Cobb, Alycia Barry, and Sherry Poage.
Compassionate Hands will present a Yukon Community Coffee – sponsored by Genie Vinson – on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at Bethel Community Church, 4901 N Sara Road. An annual spring “card party” benefit will follow.
Anyone interested in helping Compassionate Hands serve Yukon should call (405) 354-9591 or visit www.compassionatehandsyukon.org