Mid-Missouri organization lends helping hand to communities in need

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STEPHENS — After only two years in operation, Missouri Pay It Forward has expanded through most of Mid-Missouri. 

Missouri Pay It Forward is an organization designed to give disadvantaged families a better life by giving out donated items for free. These items include clothes, home decor, baby food, hygiene items and more.

This organization, started by Sylvia Sprinkle, began as a friend helping another friend in need. Sprinkle noticed the impact it had and decided to expand.

"People still need help. I'm constantly getting calls from people," Sprinkle said. "If you have the resources to help them, why would you not?"

Recently, Sprinkle opened a Free Store in Stephens. The store is open every second and fourth Wednesday of the month, and just like the name implies, all of the items are free to those in need.

So far, the Free Store has proven to be a success.

"When I got here this morning, there were 12 cars already lined up outside waiting for me," Sprinkle said. 

She also said people traveled as far as Jefferson City to come and pick out the items they needed. 

Not only is Missouri Pay It Forward helping people rebuild their lives, it's also helping rebuild a community. 

93-year-old Umbra Duffy lives four miles south of Stephens but helps with upkeep of the Free Store building.

Duffy has lived in the area since 1943 and said Sprinkle and her organization are helping Stephens to thrive once again.

"It's got Stephens back on the map. At one time, Stephens was a lively little town," Duffy said. 

Sprinkle is not only helping smaller Missouri towns. She said she is planning to help people in need in other states as well.

"We are actually taking a truckload to Florida," she said. "My niece lives down there and there are people next to her community who were hit really hard by Hurricane Matthew." 

She also said while in Florida she hopes to spread the "pay it forward" mentality to her relatives and other community members.

"Another reason I'm going down there is to show my niece what I'm doing because she wants to start this organization down in Florida so they can help each other," she said. 

Sprinkle said this organization has taught her more about life than anything else she's ever done.

"Don't be afraid to help your neighbor. Also, appreciate what you have." 

For more information about Missouri Pay It Forward and the Free Store visit the Facebook page.

 

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