Pam Bolls is known as the “cookie lady.”
She volunteers for Jericho Road Ministries in Richland, and every week she brings along a batch of homemade cookies.
“It breaks down the walls,” she said. “They come in the doors and I call them by name, offer them a cookie.”
This week, it was Russian tea cakes, meant to “get things in the Christmas spirit,” Bolls said.
Her job is to greet clients who show up by appointment on Tuesdays seeking financial assistance — generally help paying their rent or utility bills or covering costs like a car repair. She gets them started on paperwork, sits with them while they wait for their interview. Offers them a cookie — or two or three.
“I’ve never been there (in extreme financial dire straits) so I can’t say I understand, but I can be an ear to listen, a hand to shake, somebody to pray with,” Bolls said.
She and her husband also are gift-wrappers during the Richland nonprofit’s annual Christmas distribution, in which pre-registered families struggling to get by can “shop” for Christmas gifts in a gymnasium packed with donated clothing, toys and other items.
Bolls, a Jericho Road board member, brings along cookies to that event, too.
This holiday season, Jericho Road is hoping for more people like her to help with its work.
Volunteers top the organization’s wish list. Leaders especially are looking for people able to lift and carry boxes and goods. Along with providing financial assistance, Jericho Road holds regular Evening Food Bank events in which it gives away items such as food and household goods.
And its Christmas distribution helps hundreds.
Jericho Road started as a ministry of Richland Church of the Nazarene and became an independent nonprofit about eight years ago.
It sees as many as two-dozen-or-so people a month through its financial assistance program. Clients in that program also are referred to other social service organizations and churches for additional help. The Evening Food Bank events are held twice a month; the last one drew about 40 people.
And this year’s Christmas distribution, which is set for Dec. 13, already is full, with 400 children and their families signed up for the help.
Amy Schultz , founder and executive director, said the interdenominational Jericho Road aims to “coordinate services in a Christian environment, helping to restore individuals and families to wholeness. We’re trying to look at the whole person.”
Along with volunteers to help throughout the year, Jericho Road also needs extra help for the Dec. 13 distribution, from set-up to greeters, attendants and security. And it could use more baby dolls, matchbox cars, Lego bricks, art sets and bath sets to distribute.
It also could use personal hygiene items, towels, dishes, pots and pans, cooking and eating utensils and children’s jeans in sizes 7 to 14, along with cash donations.
Donations can be dropped off at Jericho Road Ministries, which is housed at Richland Church of the Nazarene, 2500 Jericho Road.