Hope For Texarkana
Tom Greer – Founder and Executive Director
In 2020, while living in Grand Prairie, Texas, Tom Greer was introduced to Blessing Boxes by a friend who regularly took food and toiletry items to the box at her local church. The box was open 24 hours a day/7 days a week, and it sat at the edge of the parking lot with a sign that said, “Take what you need, Leave what you can. Above all, BE BLESSED!”
Tom began taking things to the box, and as his family began making preparations to move back to his hometown of Texarkana, he felt inspired to bring the Blessing Box concept home with him. “I began reaching out to friends I felt would want to be a part of this process and ultimately founded the nonprofit Hope For Texarkana,” Tom says. “I recognized a need in the Texarkana area, and while there are already many great groups in town doing amazing things, I felt like this organization could do even more.”
The mission of Hope For Texarkana is “to empower individuals, families, and communities by giving hope to those in need,” and the organization desires to see the quality of lives enhanced in every way. “We believe it takes a community working together to provide food, resources, mentorship, and educational opportunities to create transformations for those who need support,” Greer says. “It has inspired me because I see daily how the Blessing Boxes we have placed around the community reach people who have immediate needs for food items and toiletries.”
Hope For Texarkana celebrated its first anniversary this past summer and is proud to say that there are now 18 Blessing Boxes scattered all over Texarkana, TX, and AR, as well as Fouke, AR, and Genoa, AR. “The nonprofit sponsored several of them, but it also partnered with some other great organizations, including Cowboy Church, Bridging the Gaps of Arkansas, and several local churches,” Tom says. “While many churches offer a food pantry for those in need, it is only open certain days of a month and certain times. A Blessing Box allows them to help anytime, day or night.”
For Tom, the most inspiring aspect of the mission of Hope For Texarkana is that it strives to be a good neighbor and reach out to those who have an immediate need. “While the organization is not classified as religious, it does represent the Bible’s second greatest commandment to ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’” Tom says. “Based on personal experiences, my family has been blessed so much as we strive to reach out and bless others.”
Though Tom serves as the Executive Director, he is also employed at Liberty-Eylau ISD as a teacher for students with severe disabilities. “As an educator for over 25 years, I always share with my students that ‘What goes around, comes around,’ and it is a strong lesson,” Tom says. “I tell them that doing good to others and putting others first will always bring good back to them.”
While the nonprofit does not have any paid employees at the moment, there are volunteers who check boxes regularly and will add items or let the leadership know if a box is empty. “These volunteers believe in our mission and that helping others is a good thing,” Tom says. “Recently, the nonprofit reached out to some area schools and other groups to start a monthly drive for specific items. Schools can receive lesson plans to support their collecting, and the students can be eligible for prizes. Arkansas Middle School, St. James Day School, and Liberty-Eylau Middle School students are currently collecting. Other schools are encouraged to contact Hope For Texarkana for an easy way to begin reaching out more to the community.”
In the future, Hope For Texarkana has a vision far above the Blessing Boxes around town. The boxes are meant to provide support for an immediate need, but as part of the new 100 Families Alliance group, people sometimes go through struggles that take time to repair. “We have located a building with some land that we envision as the Hope Hub for the organization. This is where we could store extra food and toiletry items, provide caseworkers to help with housing needs, job training, educational support (tutoring, GED, citizenship, etc.), sponsor an AA program, and so much more,” Tom says. “The land sits on a major road in town that is well traveled, and the vision is for some type of business, perhaps a drive-thru coffee shop/shaved ice shop, that would bring in revenue as well as employ some who are trying to build a work-reference resume.”
Tom says that the purchase of the land and building, along with some basic renovations, will cost around $100,000, with half of that being the price of the building and land. However, if volunteers could provide materials and labor for renovations, that amount could go down substantially. “I want readers to know that we are a group of people who are striving to live our lives to help others in any way we can. We are professionals from all walks of life who recognize our blessings and want to bless others,” Tom says. “Like most everyone these days, we recognize that taking a risk is not easy, but we have a vision and know that we can reach many others. However, it will take the support of our community to help. We gladly accept donations from $1.00 to $100,000.00 and will provide you with documents to claim on taxes.”
Monetary donations are just one need Hope for Texarkana has this holiday season. Nonperishable food items and toiletry items are always needed and can be dropped off at any of the 18 Blessing Boxes, or an arrangement can be made for a volunteer to pick them up from you. “Consider how easy it really can be to change the destination of a neighbor in need. When at the grocery store, grab an extra can of corn, beans, or soup. Your family loves mac and cheese, and so do many others, so grab an extra box to bless somebody else. It’s really not that difficult to do,” Tom says. “We love those who currently give to Hope For Texarkana and appreciate everyone who stops by and checks on our boxes. You truly are making a difference!”
To find out more about Hope for Texarkana, like them on Facebook, where you can keep up with any upcoming events as well as celebrations and other exciting news.
Also, their website, www.hope4txk.org, provides a map of all Blessing Boxes, a monetary donation link, and more information about what they hope to accomplish in the near future.