Downey Council PTA H.E.L.P.S.
In the late 1950’s, Downey Council PTA opened a Thrift Shop to help in the financial support of their philanthropic projects. At this time they also ran an emergency food program and a holiday basket program. They provided clothing to children who were referred to them from the schools.
As the numbers increased in the 70’s and 80’s, and we were no longer able to hold on to the facility that housed the Thrift Shop, in 1986 we made the move to the Apollo Neighborhood Center. We started in a janitorial storage closed and due to space we were no longer able to carry clothing. The Assistance League of Downey took that part of the operation under Operation School Bell who continues to give clothing to the needy children of Downey Unified School District. We continued the
emergency food program under the acronym H.E.L.P.S. which stands for HEALTH~ EDUCATION~LOCAL~PANTRY~SERVICE.
As the need grew in our community, we realized the need for a larger facility. At that time we went to the city and asked for their assistance in finding a larger room for our program. As a result of our efforts, we were relocated to two classrooms at the center.
In 2014 we serviced over 750 Downey families with emergency food. Also, during the holidays we handed out almost 300 Thanksgiving baskets which included a $15 grocery gift card; and at Christmas we handed out 335 food baskets which also included a $15 grocery gift card.
Our program is staffed completely with volunteers. Donations are made from each school’s PTA organized food drive, scout groups, church groups, school clubs and other organizations throughout our community. Monetary donations are also made from community groups and individuals. These funds are used to purchase food items when our shelves are low. Each family receives 6 bags of canned/packaged food and 1 bag of hygiene items.
Families qualify by requesting referral forms from their child’s school or if they do not have a student attending Downey Unified School District, and are a resident of Downey, an application can be obtained from the Barbara Riley Senior Center located in Apollo Park. Proof of residence and identification is required for each member of the household each time the form is brought in to receive food.
The families are eligible to receive food every other month. We are opened all year with the exception of some school holidays, on Wednesday and Friday from 10:00am-1:00pm. Beth Gendreau, Director Downey Council PTA H.E.L.P.S. (562) 861-9833