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Group seeks building to help community projects
A group that helps people in Yuma and Mexico through its various outreach programs is looking for the community's assistance.
About a year ago, Hands Extended, a local nonprofit organization, began searching for a place in town to hold its yard sale fundraiser events. Group member Sherry Whitworth explained that while they did eventually purchase a piece of land, they were unable to raise enough funds to construct a building on the property.
She said Yuma County worked really well with the organization to try to make sure they could find a way, but in the end they just couldn't come up with the money to make it happen, even after she put a mortgage out on her home and cashed out her 401(k) money.
She said that now, they are shifting gears and hoping someone will donate a commercial building they can use instead for a year or two at a time.
“One of our dreams is to have a retail facility that can be open four or five days a week, allowing us to sell the donated items we receive,” she said, adding that it would also be used for storage space so the items don't have to be set up day after day.
The organization's yard sales used to take place at Whitworth's Yuma home, but she said so many items are donated that they completely take over their home. She noted that in the past, their yard sales have raised up to $7,000 over the course of three days.
Whitworth said Hands Extended is involved in many outreach events in the community — so much so that it was nominated for the Heart of Yuma award in 2011.
“This ministry isn't about one person, though, it's about a group of people doing the best to serve that we can.”
In addition to donating golf equipment to Gila Ridge and San Luis high school golf teams, magazines to Yuma Regional Medical Center and food items to Teardrop Community Services in Wellton, they also make knitted hats for the homeless and dresses for girls at local abuse centers.
They also work to ensure that students in San Luis Rio Colorado, Son., are financially supported from kindergarten through college or a trade school program. Whitworth said some parents send their children to orphanages because they cannot afford the tuition required to attend all schools in Mexico.
Currently Hands Extended has about 55 students in its tuition program, six of whom still need to be sponsored. Students range in age from 5 to 20, she said.
Sponsorship per year is $225 in kindergarten through sixth grade, $350 in seventh through ninth grade, $600 in 10th through 12th grade, $3,000 in college and $200 per trade school program. Anyone can donate however much they can, she said, because that way the organization is often able to pick up the cost of students who don't have sponsors.
Funds pay for tuition, uniforms, shoes, school supplies and other necessities. Sponsors may visit, write letters or send gifts, further strengthening the bond between the donor and the child.
“The children are recommended to us through their pastors based on need and then are monitored by those pastors once they enter the program. We visit the homes of the families to make sure there aren't other needs they have that could keep the child from not being successful in the program and in many cases, food and utilities can be a problem, so we supply those type of items directly to the family.”
Whitworth believes this provides a better environment to study or do homework while at home.
To donate an unused commercial building, find out how to help sponsor a child or to donate funds and other supplies, contact Whitworth at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 305-1121. Visit www.hands-extended.org for additional information about the organization's programs.
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.