Muncie Mission has been a busy place in recent weeks, responding to the needs of homeless people and the impoverished in Delaware County at the holidays. But a donation by American Electric Power Foundation, on the recommendation of Indiana Michigan Power, has helped make that big job more achievable.
The Foundation provided the Mission with a $50,000 donation put toward replacing a box truck used to haul food and merchandise. Trucks make possible 300 or so meals the Mission provides daily. Additionally, the Mission distributed nearly 500 meals Dec. 18, providing the needy in the county with a Christmas dinner, said Bob Scott, vice president of development at the Mission.
According to a press release from I&M, the area’s electric utility, this is the second truck that the AEP Foundation has helped support. The first truck the Foundation helped with was purchased in 2020. The latest addition to the Mission’s fleet of five trucks was bought in the fall. I&M is a subsidiary of AEP based in Columbus, Ohio.
Scott said the truck replaces a vehicle that was no longer reliable. The Mission uses its fleet of trucks to travel to Indianapolis and throughout East Central Indiana, rescuing food from warehouses and grocers that might otherwise go unused. Trucks are also used to haul merchandise sold at the Mission’s five Attic Window thrift store locations. There are two thrift stores in Muncie and one each in New Castle, Hartford City and Winchester.
Scott said the Attic Window stores sell new beds and mattresses made available at a warehouse in Indianapolis. Its trucks are used to transport that merchandise from the warehouse to the retail outlets.
The vehicles have to be ready at all times to get food that might suddenly become available for the Mission’s kitchen, he said. The Mission receives donations from the Tyson chicken plant in Jay County as well from grocery distribution centers. For instance, a warehouse worker might accidently push one of the forks on a forklift into a pallet of canned corn. The store or warehouse will at times reject the whole pallet, even though only a few cans are damaged. The Mission will send a truck to fetch the food.
Scott said the Mission has even rendezvoused with truckers to rescue food on their load that would otherwise spoil.
Recently, a truck driver had two pallets of yogurt that were rejected at a distribution center. Using a box truck, the mission was able to gather the donation.
“We are one of the few organizations that can do that,” Scott said in the press release.
But finding their latest truck was not so easy. A used vehicle was found in Atlanta, Ga., that met the Mission’s needs after a search of about six months, Scott said. The trucks need to have a motorized lift for loading and unloading. Also a side door allowing access to the cargo is also preferred.
“All of us at Indiana Michigan Power know that as we approach the holidays, organizations likethe Mission are critical for those without a warm place to sleep or access to a meal,” said RobKeisling, I&M’s external affairs manager. “Our continued partnership with the Mission helpsaddress an ever-present need within the community.”
The Mission, located at 1725 S. Liberty St., is also a warming center for Muncie, which became important on Christmas weekend when temperatures dipped below zero along with strong winds.
About eight individuals stayed in the lobby of the Mission to shelter against the cold. Scott said he was grateful to other organizations that stepped forward to provide warming stations during the frigid cold spell.
Other warming centers included: Center Township trustee’s office, 1200 E. Main St.; Muncie Service HUB, 318 W. Eighth St., YWCA, 310 E. Charles St., Salvation Army, 1015 N. Wheeling Ave., Christian Ministries, 400 block of East Main Street and The New Norm, 1127 S. Madison St.
Some, like The New Norm on Madison Street, YWCA and Christian Ministries, permitted overnight stays to keep vulnerable people safe.