May 9, 2012 10:44:06 AM
On Saturday, CONTACT Helpline will hold its annual fish fry from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Kroger parking lot on Highway 45 North in Columbus.
Plates-to-go of Mississippi farm-raised catfish fillets, fries, slaw and hush puppies will be available for $8. Drinks and desserts will be available for separate purchase.
"This annual fundraiser is so important to what we do," said Lindy Thomason, executive director of CONTACT. The nonprofit agency maintains 24/7 phone lines, manned by volunteers, to handle calls dealing with everything from everyday problems and concerns to crisis and suicide intervention.
Volunteers also make more than 300 phone calls daily to seniors and/or disabled citizens to make sure they are safe for the day, said Thomason.
"We also deliver a gift to them at Christmas and spend time with them," she added. "Many of our clients have no family, so that visit is very special to them and to us."
The agency's CONTACT-A-Friend program reaches out to students.
"We want them to know they have a place to call when they need to talk and don't want to be judged; we want to reach them before things get out of hand," Thomason said. There is no charge for any of the services.
Like many agencies, CONTACT has felt the belt-tightening brought on by a sluggish economy for the past several years.
"Funds are down and expenses keep rising, so we are feeling a crunch," remarked Thomason. "These programs are simply not possible without the support of the community."
Pre-orders for catfish plates can be placed in advance by 5 p.m. Friday by calling 662-327-2968.
Donations to CONTACT Helpline may be mailed to P.O. Box 1304, Columbus, MS 39703.
All proceeds help the United Way agency continue "listening with our hearts, one person at a time."
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.