Because People Helping People is no longer in business.
The reason — the electricity was shut off Oct. 15 and the building in which she runs the community service organization People Helping People is in darkness.
“We weren’t expecting such high (electric) bills,” said Wilcoxon, owner and operator of both the children’s retail store Kidz X-Change Plus and the community service group People Helping People. And although the organization helps hundreds every month, with growing numbers each month, it doesn’t qualify for any traditional outside assistance. As of a week ago, it closed.
“The first month (People Helping People) was open, we had 70 people,” Wilcoxon said. “Now we have 70 people a day.”
For the month of August alone, 678 bags of clothing and household items were given away by the People Helping People organization, as well as 20 large household items.
“We also had an additional 231 new people (use their services),” Wilcoxon said. “It is through your assistance, donations and financial support People Helping People is reaching out to more individuals every month.”
People Helping People has been taking loads of clothing and household items to the local crisis center every week.
Up until the time power was cut off Oct. 15, People Helping People had already helped 530 people in the month of October. Many are now increasingly coming in looking for winter clothing, especially for their children.
That’s why Anna Chrisman and her daughter, Brianna, 3, came to People Helping People, but had to go home empty-handed.
So did Tammy Barker and her 5-year-old son Heath. She also came to find winter clothing for her son.
“If she goes out of business, it will be a hardship on our family and others who depend on her,” Barker said. Barker also wants to make a personal appeal to everyone to help in whatever way they can. Immediately, she started to make a list of people she was going to contact as soon as she left the store Wednesday. “If I had extra money, I’d give it to her before anyone else. That’s the God’s honest truth.”
And she knows that her sister-in-law, who goes to school, is raising a 2-year-old son, and could only find a part-time job also planned on visiting the store — before Barker found out it was closed — to get clothing and other essentials for herself and her little boy.
“This store has really been a blessing. It’s helped so many people,” Barker said. They came all the way from Etowah just to be disappointed this trip when they found out the shop was closed because there was no light in the building. “People should really rally and help this woman.”
One potential customer, arriving at People Helping People without knowing it was closed, immediately donated $20 to help the cause after hearing of the situation.
Just in the last week, Wilcoxon couldn’t properly help a family whose house burned down, although she did take them through the building with a flashlight to help them get some essentials they needed right away.
Car after car keeps pulling up to the People Helping People doors, either hoping to get some essential clothing and/or other household items, or to donate items. And, although donations are still being accepted during daylight hours, it hurts Wilcoxon to have to turn away people in need.
“That’s why we’re here, even though we don’t have no power,” Wilcoxon said. But she isn’t rightly sure what she will do if she can’t pay off the current roughly $2,500 electric bill, plus the additional $2,000 deposit and a reconnection fee of around $500, required right now to turn the power back on.
And, if Wilcoxon can’t get the power turned back on soon — maybe as soon as Monday — she will have to cancel their planned Halloween Food Drive.
“We have to decide by Monday, Oct. 25,” Wilcoxon said.
If the electricity gets turned back on in time and this year’s drive is going to be held on the previously scheduled Saturday, Oct. 30, people can enter the Halloween costume contest by donating $5 or bringing in five cans of food. One hundred percent of all the proceeds and food donations will be given to the Polk County Food Bank.
“It’s a blessing to us all,” Barker said. “This is more than a business, it’s a humanitarian cause. Oh, I didn’t mean to tear up.”