Help Give Hope: Helping Children and Families in Need Since 1981

Dec 6, 2016

“Sometimes you have to help the parents, to help the children.”                                                                                  

With an extra emphasis at Christmas time, the not-for-profit, Help Give Hope, has assisted needy children and their families in the Ozarks since 1981, and on this edition of Making a Difference; Stories of Hope and Help, the story of how Help Give Hope accomplishes its mission, as told by 20 year HGH volunteer/Christmas Program Warehouse Manager, John Wyrsch, and Murray Beairsto, who, in 2006, became the Executive Director of Help Give Hope.   

John Wyrsch and Murray Beairsto Share the Story of Help Give Hope
Credit Mike Smith / KSMU-FM

Murray Beairsto:  “I think the first time I met you, John, was the start of my 2nd Christmas season, because the first year, Donna Richardson was involved, (with warehouse duties) and at that time, she didn’t have the time to do it anymore.  And I had a conversation with Wade Palmer, who founded Help Give Hope, about what we would do, and he said “We need to get John back on board”, and so we talked on the phone, and met at Panera Bread on Sunshine.”

John Wyrsch:  “I remember that, and I remember some of the times before we obtained a permanent warehouse, when we had to deliver it all.  Barry Aton and myself would deliver refrigerators, washers and dryers, sofas, and we’d go up 2 or 3 flights of stairs with these things, and one day, after our last run, we got in the truck and looked at each other and said We’re not going to do this again, we’re getting too old for this.  That’s when we went to what we call Warehouse Pickup.”

Murray Beairsto:  “You’re right, that’s the first time we did the pickup, where they came to us to get the items, and every item was picked up.”

John Wyrsch:  “I know for our Christmas project, it’s just been in the last few years we’ve had a permanent warehouse.  Bobby Allison was nice enough to build the warehouse for us, it’s a 30,000 square foot warehouse.  It’s just evolved over the years from the 3 guys who started the organization in 1981 helping 5 families, to the 235 families we helped in 2015.  Last year, the average family received roughly $1,200 in assistance.”

For 20 Years, John Wyrsch Has Managed the Help Give Hope Warehouse During the Christmas Season
Credit Mike Smith / KSMU-FM

Murrray Beairsto: “The difference is, Help Give Hope looks at the family as a whole.  They don’t look at just giving gifts at Christmas. Sometimes you have to help the parents to help the children.”

JW:  “That includes washers, dryers, refrigerators, sofas, kitchen tables and chairs, toys, clothes, 460 bikes last year, and there’s food totes too.”

MB:  “Yes, the general things you’d find in a food basket.  If there are 10 members of the family, they’ll be 10 cans of corn, 10 green beans, 10 macaroni and cheese, along with hams and potatoes.  Plus the hygiene stuff like shampoo, soaps, tooth brushes and toothpaste, and laundry detergent.  Last year we gave away over 400 beds, the bulk of that at Christmas time.  Since I started with HGH in 2006, we’ve given away over 4,700 bicycles. Outside of Christmas, we have our car program.  We probably give away 11 or 12 used cars a year, but we also repair cars, and put tires on cars for people.  Those are things that are deal breakers for people.  It’s a life changer.”

JW:  “You might visit with listeners about how we find these families, because I get asked that a lot.”

MB:  “We do our sign-up in the early fall, and we send flyer out to all the schools.  We try to touch as many people as we can, and we work primarily with school nurses, because they know who these people are.  It’s hard to comprehend how easily this charity works, but there are not many layers to it.  Someone needs help, they make a call, they fill out the application, they get help.  It’s that simple.  But I think what also sets us apart is even after they sigh up, we visit them in their homes.  This year we’ve   visited 367 families.  We can create shop lists for every person in those families, and we shop December 5th and 6th.  Then we check to make sure it all gets audited correctly, to make sure the size 6 shoe for Johnny is really a child’s 6, instead of an adult size 6. Then we re-shop for all the mistakes that were made, and then on December 9th and 10th, we wrap it all.”

Murray Beairsto: Executive Director of Help Give Hope, Since 2006
Credit Mike Smith / KSMU-FM

JW:  “I know there are several families who bring their children to help when we wrap, and we wrap every single present.  They like to bring their children out to teach them about giving at Christmas time”

MB:  “Help Give Hope is one of those organizations where number one, they love to volunteer.  They’re there to help shop, or help wrap because it’s a positive way to give back, it’s a time to give.  I always say if you come to volunteer at Help Give Hope, you’ll return.  And that’s the truth; people love what they do there and see the results of what they do.  I love all the volunteers, and always hold my breath when I ask you (John) if you’re going to do the furniture, (at Christmas) because if you ever tell me no, I’m not really sure what I’ll do.  It’s gets chaotic, it gets crazy, and you keep your cool, the whole time. It gives me comfort knowing  I can come to you in the Fall and say John, will you get this done, II don’t have to worry about it again.”

JW:  I think you, Murray, have brought stability and organization to Help Give Hope, and have continued over the many years since 2006, when you came on-board.  I’ve had great working relationship with you, and hope it continues for many more years.”

For information on how to support Help Give Hope’s Christmas Program, or its year-round mission of Helping Needy Families Have a Brighter Future, www.helpgivehope.org  

Help Give Hope is one of more than 600 nonprofits across the region that partner with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.  The CFO provides administrative, investment and educational services to support its nonprofit partners, so they can focus on their core mission.  www.cfozarks.org