KNOX – The mission of Charitable Deeds and Services hasn’t changed since its founding in 2001 — to help the poor and needy in Clarion, Venango and Forest counties with utility bills, clothing and furniture.
Founder John Kerle recently retired and many of the organization’s volunteers will continue the work of Charitable Deeds and Services, walking the walk and talking the talk.
“It was always a dream of John’s to do something to help the community,” said Bobbi Wolfgong, now president of Charitable Deeds. “There was a little girl that had cancer and John wanted to try to help her, so they had a spaghetti dinner thinking that it would be just one dinner.”
Spaghetti dinners were a big hit when the group first started, and it soon grew to the point where many different dinners were held for specific people in need. The dinners were time-consuming for volunteers and were eventually limited to once a month, and later canceled.
Donations continue to flow in despite the lack of spaghetti. Various sales help the cause at Charitable Deeds’ warehouses and offices at 260 High Point Road in Knox, which is full of all kinds of donated merchandise.
“I got involved after my son, Christopher, passed away when he was nine in 2001, and my funeral director, Dave McEntire, a good friend of ours, said it might help me through grieving to go to an organizational meeting for Charitable Deeds,” said Wolfgong.
The board of directors includes Wolfgong as president, Bonnie Slaughenhaupt, Nolan Davis, Ellie Telesz, Nellie Hartzell and Kerry Cochran.
“Charitable Deeds and Services is a non-profit organization. Volunteers give freely of their time, but we still have expenses that we need to cover with the income generated from our garage sales,” Wolfgong said. “Monthly bills for gas, electric, phone, insurance, etc. must be paid, in addition to being able to help those in our community that are struggling.”
A food pantry is held the fourth Thursday of every month. People can call in and register at (814) 797-0286.
Food is also donated from Sheetz, Aldi’s and Country Fair, along with numerous area churches.
“We have big freezers in the back, and then when we do our food pantry the fourth Thursday of every month,” said a volunteer. “We can bring that out and add it to our selections. We give 140 shopping carts of food away each month.”
The group’s warehouse is also filled with free furniture for those in need, or for those wishing to purchase it.
Wolfgong said many individuals in the area donate furniture. Faller’s Furniture often donates furniture that is in good shape that their customers are replacing. If any store can’t put it back in stock for sale, they donate it. Home Depot is another example and how a kitchen sink can end up at Charitable Deeds.
“Our warehouse holds all of the furniture, and it reaches a point where Charitable Deeds has a sale of surplus furniture,” Wolfgong said. “The money raised for the sales goes back into the organization to help people with their utility bills.”
Charitable Deeds and Services also works closely with existing human service agencies in its counties to provide funding for the greatest needs.
Those seeking financial assistance can schedule appointments between 9 and 11:30 a.m. on Mondays by calling (814) 797-0286.
Veterans in need may also request financial support that could include $400 every 12 months. They are asked to describe why it is needed, and charitable deeds will send a check directly to their utility company.
It All Possible
Volunteers make Charitable Deeds and Services possible, Wolfgong said. Volunteers feel the call of community service and often labor without any recognition
According to Wolfgong, “There are easily a couple hundred volunteers and about 25 that help us on a daily basis. We have volunteers who help send our mailings and we have a little over 1,100 volunteers and donors.”
A recent public thank you letter to John Kerle described the impact of one person:
“Charitable Deeds and Services started with funding from John and his family and has since grown to include over 1,000 faithful members. Members contribute to the organization in many different ways. They contribute monetarily, volunteer their time, pray for those on our prayer chain, send in monthly donations, donate furniture, clothing, etc. All this is to help people in our community who are in need. Without John’s vision and support none of this would have been possible.”
“We all want to thank him for the many, many hours that he put into Charitable Deeds and services to make it what it is today,” the letter continues. “We are hoping to keep John’s dream of providing help to the people who need it in the Clarion, Venango, Forest, and surrounding counties. We are still the same organization with the same mission, but missing the great, generous, man who started it. A journey of 1,000 miles must begin with a single step.
“Thank you for letting us walk with you John.”
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