The Samaritan House ministry is all about “helping people help themselves,” Peggy Wall, the current president of the Samaritan House, said.

A lot of their clients — many of them senior citizens — get about $600 to $800 a month. They use that to pay rent, utilities and medicine, sometimes leaving little if anything for food because the bills come first.

“Most of them get $16 worth of food stamps on the average,” Wall said. “Now there’s some that get $12, and maybe some that get a little more, but the average is around $16 what our clients are getting. But how many groceries can you buy for $16? Not very many.”

The Samaritan House ministry, which operates from a small building at 314 S. Shelby St. in Carthage, hopes to help these people, giving away donated food to the people in the community who need it. Wall has volunteered with the organization since 1985, the year it began.

“None of us here gets paid,” Wall said. “It’s just volunteer, from the head to the toe. Everything is donated from Panola County. We’re not government funded, don’t get any money from the government.”

Wall said they give out food Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon most of the year. In November and December, however, they only give out food once during the month because they’re giving away food specifically for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“We want them to have hams and nice things for the holidays, hams and turkeys and stuff for the holidays, and we cannot do that if we’re giving other food,” Wall said. “We try to give enough for the holidays.”

Wall said they have 310 of their regular people signed up for the holidays, and 26 additional people signed up for the holidays outside of that.

“Now some of our clients don’t come,” Wall said. “We have about 400 files in there; those are our regular clients. Some of our clients don’t come until after school’s out. In the summer we have some, and then they come and they get food only for those until the kids go back to school.”

In order to get on the list to receive food from Samaritan House, one needs to come by Samaritan House and present them with identification — either a drivers license, Texas ID and/or a social security card; proof of residence — a recent water, electric or gas bill; proof of income and a food stamp award letter.

All the food they give away is donated by people in the community, and anybody who wants to volunteer can come by their location or give the Samaritan House a call at (936) 332-5320.

The group hosts one major drive each October, but that’s it.

“Everybody here, everybody just donates their time,” Wall said. “We keep the doors open, people come in and they donate their time, money. A lot of people pray for us... All day we’re packing food, we unload trucks and see ourselves.”