September 20, 2012
Rural Services celebrating its 25th year
Cincinnatus charity organization offers help to people in 11 towns
CINCINNATUS — Cindy Pierce was in shopping mode Wednesday, looking at clothing to buy but also interested in free offerings from Cortland Chenango Rural Services.
The “free room” sits in the middle of the agency’s center, which is two mobile home structures placed in an “L” formation. When Pierce looked, it contained a plastic bin of potatoes donated by a farmer and boxes of shampoo donated by Marietta Corp. in Cortland.
Pierce said she and her husband, Mark Andrews, come from their North Pitcher home regularly for help with food, clothing and anything else the agency has to offer.
They have stopped at the building often in the past five years, since Andrews became unable to work due to injury.
“We’re very happy they’re here, and they treat you very nice,” she said.
Cortland Chenango Rural Services, located on Lower Cincinnatus Road next to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, has been offering discounted food, used clothing, counseling and other forms of assistance for 25 years.
The agency will celebrate its 25 years with food and music from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday at its headquarters.
The agency serves six towns in Chenango County and five in Cortland County: Pitcher, South Otselic, German, Lincklaen, McDonough, Pharsalia, Cincinnatus, Willet, Solon, Taylor and Freetown.
Sister Kathleen Heffron manages the operation, which also operates the Cincinnatus Farmers Market located between its building and the church.
The center’s volunteers were preparing Wednesday for the weekend event, and also taking orders for the October grocery shipment through Food Sense, the service that allows families to purchase food for about half what it would cost in a supermarket.
Food Sense eases costs for families who struggle with food shopping not just because of food cost but because of gas costs, as grocery shopping would take them to Cortland, Norwich or Whitney Point.
Mary Mark, the board member who runs Food Sense, said a family can purchase a package with four kinds of meat, several kinds of fruit and vegetable, and eggs, rice and beans. The food comes from Food Bank of Syracuse and is ordered by about 50 or 60 families, she said.
“A package costs $30 or $31, much less than it would otherwise,” she said. “You can feed a family on less money.”
Cincinnatus Home Center on Route 26 began selling food a few years ago, in addition to its hardware business. It offers many discounts as well, which Mark said has helped residents of the valley. But people buying large quantities of food might drive to Aldi’s, Walmart or supermarkets in the Cortland area.
The agency also provides meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The agency’s offices have meeting rooms for community groups, counseling, tax service and other purposes.
Three rooms are devoted to clothing for sale, with sections for extra-large men’s clothing, teenagers, boys, women’s sweaters and jeans, and new clothes that were donated.
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