Helping Hand Facebook page provides assistance to La Crosse residents

Delania+Heller+%28left%29+Brooke+Hardison+%28right%29.+Photo+taken+by+Melissa+Touche+%28Baca%29.

Delania Heller (left) Brooke Hardison (right). Photo taken by Melissa Touche (Baca).

Melissa Touche (Baca), Social Justice Reporter

Everyone Needs a Helping Hand-La Crosse Area is a Facebook page that describes itself as, “[A] group dedicated to helping those in La Crosse, WI and surrounding communities. We are a page that will point people in the right direction as to where and how they can get the help they need. We are a group that is connecting caring people together in order to make a positive difference in our communities. We do this by: Providing Various Community Resources for individuals and families in need. Helping others with getting their basic human needs met when times are tough. Examples include: Food, Shelter, Clothing, Rides, Work, Childcare, Linking our Community with available Resources, and others. Ask the group or post items that people may need! We are all here to help each other.” 

One request made on the site, asking for help with food, received over 50 comments, with offers of groceries that can be spared to local times and directions to area food banks. There are over 3,000 members on the site.  

Delania Kimler Heller first began the site four years ago, and now the site has six admins for the page. “I didn’t have any admins or anything. I was thrilled when I hit a hundred members. And 90 of them were my friends,” said Heller. I kept building it and trying to put it out there. My first Christmas we were able to sponsor two families, one of them I did myself. It just started growing and then we started to do Thanksgiving dinners and we were able to do two the first yearThis year has really taken off. This year alone we were able to provide 70 families with full Thanksgiving meals. I’m talking turkey, potatoes, pie and we did everything out of the legion. We worked so hard. Then we moved on to Christmas, and just our group, we sponsored almost 250 kids alone, and it wasn’t an easy task.”

Christmas trees were also provided. Brooke Hardison said,”[I] went searching in basements, people’s garages, everywhere to get trees donated. 28 Christmas trees were provided to families that didn’t have anything at all. This included lights, and ornaments and outdoor decorations. It is hard but I did have a lot of fun.

It was only for families in the community that had nothing. It was a day of incredible.  I mean, seeing them sit with their children and write a letter to Santa, and decorating cookies, including pictures with Santa. Everything was free. It was great,” said Heller. “Since that event, we have doubled our [member] numbersI think the community is starting to come out more and donate more items now, instead of dropping it at Goodwill.”

“We put out a post asking who needs help, and Delania cross-references information with the county, so people aren’t double-dipping and we could help more people,” said Hardison. 

“There’s a big list through the county and I’m able to be on that list so we can see, and its not like we will turn anyone away but we will make sure they get the resources they need on a daily bases, we can direct people to places that they don’t realize [exists],” said Heller.

When asked how the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse community can help, Heller said, “In June we are doing a whole event for families. We are having photographers volunteer to take family photos, and some have never had that doneSo, if there are any aspiring photographers at UWL that would like to participate, we would love to have you. We are probably gonna need 25 photographers and their equipment. We are even going to have beauticians, food, and crafts, everything is being donated”. 

[At the end of term] some of the things college students throw out, I would never think to throw things in that good of shape in the garbage,” Hardison said, “I think its great to let [UWL students] know, that since they know when they’re moving out, and they know ahead of time what they’re taking with them and what they’re throwing out, they could post pictures on the site with what they have. If they don’t want random people coming over to pick stuff up the admins can come pick stuff up. They can set it outside and post the address. That’s the simplest thing you can do. For some people, it might not be anything, but for those who need it, it means so much.” 

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