Happy Anniversary, GAM!

Photo caption: Garner Area Ministries Director Joyce Cooper; the organization is celebrating its 30th year of helping local families in need.

In any given week, men, women and families walk through the doors of Garner Area Ministries. Their stories are different, but their needs are the same: Food. Clothing. Money to pay the rent, or keep the lights on.

“People are really hurting,” said Director Joyce Cooper, a GAM volunteer for 19 years. “They’re losing their jobs, they’re disabled, or there’s no gas in the car.”

This month, Garner Area Ministries is celebrating its 30th anniversary of helping local families. Volunteers past and present have gathered to celebrate, and the Town of Garner even issued a proclamation of support.

What began with $87 and space in a volunteer’s basement is now an organization supported by more than 20 area churches, along with civic groups and the community.

Approximately 50 people are on the volunteer roster at GAM. And this year more than 4,000 people have been helped via GAM’s food pantry, clothing closet and monetary vouchers.

More than half of the revenue disbursed by the ministry to families in need is raised through its thrift shop, located in Garner Village shopping center, at 560 Village Court. The remainder of funds comes from community donations and grants.

The shop offers household items, furniture, books, clothing, wedding gowns and more. Volunteers run the shop on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., under the management of Margaret Hryniuk.

Hours to apply for financial assistance are weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Carol Oriel, manager at GAM, says food is the organization’s largest need right now. Her husband, Tom, organizes the food pantry.

“The community has been very generous with their donations, but the increased needs due to the economy have made it necessary for us to spend over $12,000 for food during the first three quarters of this year,” she said, money that could otherwise be used to help needy families.

She adds that GAM also always appreciates clothing and gently-used household items, monetary donations and new volunteers.

After all, local families have been counting on GAM for 30 years.

“I feel like I have a purpose in life, helping other people,” Oriel said. “It’s a good feeling.”

Garner Area Ministries

(919) 772-9100


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