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Support from Churches Joint Council on Human Needs.

Volunteers from various charities, including the Churches Joint Council on Human Needs or CJCOHN, partner together to help the less fortunate. The organization will try to provide financial aid when possible, but much more likely will be the distribution of material goods, such as food, clothing, or Christmas toys as well. Since its creation, an average of over 1,000 people have been assisted each year.

The charity, which was also part of the Saline County Ministerial Alliance that operated in the past, not only includes volunteers, but other organizations also contribute time and resources. There are collections of food that occur throughout the community, businesses offer surplus clothing, and restaurants may give meal items. There are also fundraisers help in the Benton Arkansas region so that money can be given out to pay bills such as rent, utilities, or even gasoline for a critical appointment.

The church based group will do its best to help the needy, but there are no guarantees. Even if they do not have resources, then the volunteers can still provide general friendship or even counseling. Or if a family needs someone to direct them to other possible sources of financial help or even public aid, then  CJCOHN may offer that service too.

CJCOHN services for low income households

To help a household get settled in, or maybe to feed a family during a crisis, there is a pantry type service available. This will not only provide individuals with groceries or a fresh hot meal when available, but Saline County families can get much more.

The goods available are collected by one or more of the over 100 volunteers. They reach out to groceries stores, Wal-Mart, and local restaurants too. The Churches Joint Council on Human Needs also partners closely with groups such as the Salvation Army thrift store in order to collect items.

The center may have some or all of the following, including gently used clothing, winter boots or hats, toilet articles, and food. During October to December, they try to provide low income families with children free toys and presents. Wal-Mart is also a partner in offering vouchers or surplus toys to kids as well.





All year round, volunteers will also try to feed the homebound. Maybe a senior citizen can no longer drive, or someone is sick or just left the hospital. If a person can't either prepare their own meal, or can't make it to the grocery store to shop on their own, a volunteer may assist using a Meals on Wheels type program.

Financial aid programs from Churches Joint Council on Human Needs

Due to result of donations and hard work of volunteers, there may be some money available on occasion for paying some critical bills. Or the churches will help coordinate an affordable loan for the applicant. Different options are explored.

When seeking funds to pay rent or past due energy bills, the funds are a last resort only. There is assistance that CJCOHN has and they also work closely with groups such as Saline County Ministerial Alliance. Only very small dollar amounts would be paid out, even if someone were to qualify for aid.

After an extensive application process, which may include a home visit from one of the volunteers, there may be money issued to the applicant. Funds can be used to help pay an electricity bill to keep the lights or heat on. There may be critical prescription medications provided by the churches, or they will issue some money to a landlord for rent. This can be either to keep the family housed, or maybe the up front costs such as a deposit for a new apartment.




There may even be free gasoline vouchers given out. If Churches Joint Council on Human Needs has funds for this, it will only be for local travel in the Benton area. It will need to be for emergency transportation, such as a job interview or doctor appointment. Or if a gasoline voucher is not readily available, then a CJCOHN volunteer may drive the person.

The main church center for applying, and which volunteers operate out of, is in Benton Arkansas. The address is 103 East Elm Street. For those that would like hours or more information, the intake number is (501) 776-2912.


By Jon McNamara

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