Margie Roberts retired from Ardmore Schools where she worked with 4-5 year olds. She said it pulled at her heartstrings to see children whose families were unable to afford things like socks and jackets. After she retired, Roberts started helping out with a charity, From The Heart, run out of a storage unit that collected donations for those struck by tragedy or those in need. After the original founder left, Roberts took over and began expanding the charity.
“I didn’t know about paperwork and all that,” Roberts said. After a community member helped guide her to become a 501(c)3, Roberts was able to expand even further. In its fifth year, the organization has grown and moved to a larger location on Highway 70 in Lone Grove.
Last year, the charity helped at least 1,000 families.
“And those were just the people who signed in,” Roberts said.
At least eight of those were from ‘burn outs’ or those who have completely lost their homes to fires. They also take referral vouchers from area agencies, like the Department of Human Services, the Grace Center, and the Family Shelter. Families who come with vouchers can choose five outfits, a pair of shoes and a coat if in season.
“I want the kids to be taken care of because they can’t take care of themselves,” Roberts said. “I want kids to feel good about themselves.” Roberts said some area children need the extra self-confidence that comes with having clean, well-taken care of clothing. She said she does not keep items with holes or stains, or anything she and her own family wouldn’t wear themselves.
Roberts and her husband Charlie are the main staff at the facility. They have one regular volunteer, Jennifer Renfroe. Others come in and volunteer for events or seasonal changeover. There is also a blessing box out front where those who need extra food assistance can take or leave items. Roberts said sometimes they get donations to fill it—and some community members work together to keep it stocked from their own pockets.
From the Heart has had several corporate donations over the past five years, but they are mostly funded through monthly and seasonal garage sales and fundraising events. Roberts has regular fundraisers, like a winter chili and bean supper, bingo nights, and bake sales. Members of the Facebook group, who are often members of the community working together to help each other, try to donate $2 a month or give what they can to keep the organization running. Roberts has also applied for funds from local businesses including Sonic, Wal-Mart, Sno-Blizzard, and Auntie Anne’s. All donations go to the operational costs of the organization, Roberts said.
Roberts said they also make gift baskets for holidays and events, like Easter baskets or Valentine’s gifts. Upcoming events include a Bingo night and dessert auction from 6-8 p.m. Saturday at the Lone Grove Community Center. Refreshments will be available, including nachos, pizza, dessert, and drinks for $1 and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels for $2.50. There will also be cookies donated from 30 Lane Bakery in Lone Grove and tea donated from Chicken Express in Ardmore.
Next month, the charity will have a bake sale from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 14 at Ardmore Walmart. Proceeds from both events will help cover rent and utilities at the facility. Roberts said their motto at It’s From the Heart is “We give a hand up, not a hand out.”
For more information or to follow the group’s events, the community is encouraged to join the Facebook group at Facebook.com/groups/itsfromtheheart or call the office at (580) 657-2531.