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New forklift’s arrival ‘a joyous moment’ for Rowan Helping Ministries

By Susan Shinn Turner

Rowan Helping Ministries

SALISBURY — Why is Kyna Grubb so excited about a new forklift?

“It was like a party event here when the truck pulled in with the new forklift,” said Grubb, executive director of Rowan Helping Ministries. “It was such a joyous moment.”

The previous forklift had served the agency well but was on its last legs.  New ones aren’t cheap, as you might imagine. With the trade-in, Rowan Helping Ministries paid $25,000 for the new forklift.

The nonprofit organization had money available through the Emergency Food Assistance Program via the USDA. Tri-Lift helped negotiate a discounted price, and Power Curbers is continuing its longterm relationship with Rowan Helping Ministries.

“That forklift feeds people,” said Stephen Bullock, Power Curbers president. “Without good operating equipment, they’re in a bind.”

Tri-Lift serviced the old forklift and kept it running beyond its useful life, while Power Curbers funded the service calls. Based in Greensboro, Tri-Lift works with Power Curbers — one of its customers — out of its Charlotte office.

“That definitely made my day to be there when the forklift was delivered,” said Edward Tart of Tri-Lift. “It was a lot of fun.”

The forklift is absolutely essential in day-to-day operations, explained Kristine Wiles, Rowan Helping Ministries’ director of crisis assistance and food programs.

On this particular day, Wiles was expecting an upcoming shipment of more than 10,000 pounds of USDA butter and cheese.

“That would be a lot for us to manually handle,” she said.

In the past year, Grubb said, more than 1.37 million pounds of food came through Rowan Helping Ministries. The USDA allotment accounts for more than half of that number.

Here’s the way the forklift is used. When food comes in, it’s taken down to the lower level of the building on pallets, where it’s broken down into family allocation boxes. Each family gets two boxes, and each box weighs between 40 and 45 pounds. Then those boxes are taken via forklift across the street to the food pantry for distribution. Pallets of purchased food are used to provide more than 1,000 weekend food bags to schoolchildren through Food for Thought.

Kyna Grubb, executive director of Rowan Helping Ministries, sits behind the wheel of the new forklift as other staff members share the excitement of its arrival. (Submitted photo)

The forklift is also used when Food Lion diverts food it can’t accept for whatever reason — but which is perfectly fine. It’s used for deliveries from Second Harvest. And it helps with cardboard recycling, taking out the trash, and moving large amounts of donations over to the shelter.

“It makes our lives a lot easier and more effective,” Wiles pointed out. “We put it to good use the first day we had it.”

Wiles is one of four certified forklift drivers. Grubb has another position open, which will soon bring the total number of drivers to five.

Wayne Turlington is the go-to driver.

“I appreciate it,” Turlington said. “I just love the color, too.”

His favorite team is the Philadelphia Eagles, and although one of the team colors is dark green, the lime green forklift suits him fine.

“It’s a beautiful machine,” he said.

To make sure the agency used its funds correctly, Grubb talked with the folks at Power Curbers about the choice of purchasing a new forklift versus leasing one.

“As long as we take care of it, it will serve our community really well, without any cost to our donors,” she said.

Grubb noted that Rowan Helping Ministries’ mission statement includes cooperative community action — and this project is a perfect example of the community working together.

“It’s awesome!” Wiles added.

Excitement abounds.

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