Phil the Need effort goes beyond food and shelter

Monday, February 26, 2018

Putnam County people are tackling homelessness and striving to feed the hungry.

But other vital needs exist in the community, and the group Phil the Need Inc. is hoping to fill them, organization President Ruth Myers says.

Purpose of the 501C3 group is to provide a free service to residents and homeless disadvantaged people of all ages in Putnam County in cooperation with dozens of other agencies.

Phil the Need -- with the “Phil“ coming from Philippians 4:19, the Bible verse that says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Jesus Christ” -- has been inspired, Myers explained, to provide opportunities for volunteers to come together to serve others with dignity and respect.

The goal is to provide people who have been uprooted by fires or domestic or economic situations or those who have been at Beyond Homeless but have moved on to a place of their own with such necessities as beds, furniture, dishes, housewares, appliances, towels and more.

The goal, Myers said, is a desire to “build the community into one, big resource that opens up to help more people.”

“There’s so much out there,” she added, “nobody knows all that. Not that I know all of it. But we have tons of people with talent and skills and connections.”

With a passion for helping people, Myers has been involved in the Giving Tree program at Christmas the past dozen years in Putnam County, seeing firsthand that many families’ needs extend beyond putting something under the Christmas tree for their children. Many people are sleeping on the floor or don’t have any bedding, she said.

Phil the Need is helping correct that on a small scale but hopes to expand its services. To do so, however, it needs volunteers to meet with clients and even just to help move furniture.

Organizations like Family Support Services, Putnam County schools, Head Start, Johnson-Nichols Clinic and Care-Net Pregnancy Center refer families to Phil a Need, and if the need doesn’t come from a referral, representatives meet at the in-need residents’ home to assess what is needed.

“This is a very generous community,” Myers said. “That’s one thing I’ve found working with the Giving Tree.”

In fact, she said the Giving Tree generosity represents an investment of $45,000 by the community with an estimated 600 children receiving a minimum of three presents (usually several more) purchased for a $25 maximum (many go over).

One project that Phil the Need is getting ready to launch is Tools for School, a countywide efforts that targets the families of free and reduced school lunch recipients. Those numbers are mind-boggling, Myers insists. The four Putnam County school corporations reportedly have a combined 2,217 students on the free lunch program, while another 271 get reduced lunches at school.

The issue was driven home to her, Myers said, by a man who confided that he didn’t know how he was going to be able to afford school supplies for his daughter.

Ever passionate about such things, Myers took the requisite school supplies list and purchased the necessary classroom items the girl was going to need -- backpack, paper, pencils, notebooks, folders, scissors, etc. -- to the tune of $85.

“I hadn’t gotten her gym shorts or anything else,” she lamented, knowing there also were book rental fees to consider as a back-to-school expense.

With that experience as a springboard, Phil the Need is going to the school counselors this spring to determine who needs school supply assistance.

The goal is to furnish each in-need student with a backpack full of school supplies and a pair of tennis shoes The plan is to offer the program for the next school year.

“We want to get as many organizations and businesses to donate or purchase supplies needed to equip these families, collaborating with other agencies and working together as a community,” Myers said, noting that one local philanthropy is interested in footing the bill for tennis shoes.

But with such tennis shoes costing a minimum of $10-plus and more likely toward the $25-$30 mark, that could involve some serious costs when talking about more than 2,200 students, she noted.

That’s why collaboration with other groups and individuals is sought by Phil the Need. The group hopes to establish a rapport with service clubs and local lodges and sororities.

Anybody who is interested in helping in any format can contact Phil the Need at 765-655-6301 or via email at or through the mail at P.O. Box 251, Greencastle, IN 46135.

Beyond the Tools for School project, Phil the Need representatives dream of being able to utilize the services of a volunteer nurse or pro-bono legal counsel for residents to talk to and confide in when necessary.

The organization is also looking for a building that can warehouse furnishings that it acquires to equipment the up-and-coming households.

“We would like to make sure each individual has a bed to sleep in,” Myers stressed. “Funds to buy beds are needed. We do receive some donations of beds but not enough to sustain the service needed in Putnam County.”

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