Pam Dudding Contributing writer
(Published on January 6, 2021) Throughout 2020, many people have extended their hands, regardless of how little they felt they had to share.
Last year, a new service blessed Craig County residents with a building full of clothes, books, toys, and household goods at Club Camp Mitchell. People that heard, flooded in, and picked out their necessities for their children and other neighbors.
This event, “Just A Hand,” is a non-profit organization created by Lynn and Bill Morgan of Spotsylvania, Virginia. It was brought to Craig by Nichole Persinger who organized the connection with the Morgan’s and her son Dustin Persinger, a CCPS School Counselor.
Locals who attended were seen and heard and expressed how thankful they were.
This tugged on their hearts and they went to work searching for a permanent place to house such a wonderful idea.
This week, Derek Persinger announced that “Just A Hand” officially has a home.
“Starting this month, we are located at 1945 Craig Valley Drive in the Former Craig Printing Building,” he said. “With the help of many individuals from the community, our non-profit organization is off to a great start.”
The goal of Just A Hand is to help support families in communities by offering free access to clothing, kids’ books and toys, household goods and other necessity items.
They are accepting donations and will officially open the doors to the public closer to the end of January.
“We would like to say thank you to quite a few individuals who have helped to see our dream realized,” Persinger said. “Without the help of the founder Lynn Morgan, who started this nonprofit in Northern Virginia from the ground up, we would not have the resources or the support to get this started and share something so great with our community.”
He added, “Robin Nobles of Camp Mitchell provided a location for years before we were able to find a more permanent space. Without Robin and other individuals such as Stacy Fisher, Debbie Boitnotte, and Gina Smith who gave a hand to us when we needed it, we would not be able to pay it forward. We would like to say thank you to Jack Rankin for his support in lending us a more permanent space, which ultimately will allow us to house more items to eventually give back to the community.”
“Lastly, during our first day of donations in the new location, one individual from our community saw our potential and has been working effortlessly to raise funds to further support our community. We are so very thankful to Jordan Labiosa for the kindness he has shown Just A Hand,” Persinger mentioned. “We appreciate all of the individuals who are working to make our community a place where everyone can thrive.”
Just A Hand is also on Facebook for the community to view. https://www.facebook.com/justahand.
“We encourage those who are interested in donating or would like to know more about the organization to contact Dustin Persinger at [email protected] or look at the Facebook Yard Sale page with regular updates on when the shop will be open,” he said.
Persinger also shared that when he was recently talking with another family who was visiting Just A Hand, the true goal came to life.
“Our goal is to create a space where families in our community can come and take what they need and leave behind something for someone else who may need it,” Persinger shared.
Lynn Morgan, the Founder and CEO of Just A Hand, shares her story to Craig County.
“Hello to all in New Castle, Virginia! Thank you so much for welcoming Just A Hand. We are excited to have others learn about our efforts. Any assistance, be it word of mouth, volunteer-based, collection-based, fundraising or monetary donations is greatly appreciated and tax-deductible per IRS guidelines. Just A Hand is a 501(c)3 non-profit that I founded in Spotsylvania, Virginia in February of 2009.”
“We collect new and used items year-round and specialize in helping new moms get everything they need for a great start. We clean and check items and make them as new as possible,” she said. “Families are encouraged to return items still useable in exchange for the next size up. This allows the families to contribute and eases the feelings normally associated with needing help. It often results in families collecting for us and volunteering in their community.”
Morgan shared that in the past, they have hosted holiday giveaways and have been delivering to families to reach even more. They spearheaded multiple natural disaster relief missions with the help of their local communities. Because of this, their mission has inspired many new organizations to start, including their Sheriff’s office hosting a Christmas event.
She believes that what has made their efforts extra special is the fact that they are an all-volunteer organization that is run and operated in her home without the need for high overhead and fundraising.
“My husband and I are able to meet the local demands for many families. Last year for Christmas, we provided toys for 146 children in December. When we plan larger events, our board of directors helps us to recruit volunteers to meet our needs. Our home has been filled at times and our days filled with sorting and preparing items for families. We recycle as much as possible,” Morgan shared.
“Our overhead has been minimal, but with a building comes more needs for funding. Besides our basic needs of trash bags, bleach, wipes and things like corporation fees, P.O. Box, and phone bills,” she added. “That is what we have paid in the past. Any funding that comes our way is used to purchase many items that we do not have in stock and are rarely donated. We make many of these purchases from online yard sales, auctions and store closeouts.”
Morgan added that her connection to Craig County is family.
“It is always my heart. My father David Greenway (RIP) is somewhere in heaven moving things to help make this happen, I am sure of it! I am from Roanoke and was born at the old Lewis Gale and my mother’s family ran the mail routes through this county so many years ago. She still resides in Roanoke. Most of my family either reside or are buried on or in these mountains somewhere,” she said.
“We have just recently secured a much-needed space in Craig County. The plan is to house items for distribution to families in that community after a successful giveaway at Camp Mitchell showcased the greater need. My sister Nicole is helping to make this all possible and has no idea how much work it will take. Please, no one tell her,” she jokingly said.
Morgan added that the building they have found has a reduced rent and are in hopes that they will have it for a while as it is for sale.
“We ask that those we help not sell any items they no longer need. They may return them or give them to someone else in need,” Morgan said.
There are no income guidelines to qualify for help. Families will only need to fill out a brief sheet which includes their name, address, phone number, number of kids, ages and genders form and sign that they know items are used and must be checked for age appropriation, cleanliness and safety.
Ideas for suggestions for kids donations are: clothing – birth to size 16 and diapers, outer wear- coats, hats, gloves, scarves, shoes – (tennis shoes, play shoes, boots, dance and sport), books – (any and all including coloring books, school supplies), linens – (blankets, towels, sheets, bedding sets for crib, toddler, twin and full sizes, throw pillows, curtains, shower curtain sets, toys – (all types, games, puzzles, dolls, play sets, sports equipment, train tables, kitchens, doll furniture, barbie houses, dollhouses, Legos, chalkboards, musical instruments, craft kits, stuffed animals, art supplies), furniture – ( cribs, crib mattress and changing pads, changing tables, rockers, toddler beds, twin and full size beds, chests, nightstands, small desks, kids size table and chairs, bookcases, toy boxes and lamps) as well as baby Gear-all types (Pac-n-plays, bassinets, swings, car seats, boosters, baby gates, bouncy seats, potty seats, set me up seats, monitors, play yards, kid dishes, sippy cups, boppy pillows, bathtubs, strollers, humidifiers, breast pumps, bottles, baby bags, carriers).
Other donation items can be: clothing racks, metal free standing shelving, display racks, baskets, plastic hangers, re-useable shopping bags, folding tables, saw horses, large clean trash cans and laundry bins.
New or unopened items only of underwear, formula, baby food, wipes, Pedialyte, toothbrushes, snacks, cereal and canned goods may be accepted.
“Our mission statement is simple as are our goals,” Morgan said. “Give of yourself and teach others to give. No matter how small the gesture, if you help to ease the burdens of another, you help to create a better place for us all.”