Operation Liberty Hill finds new home

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Operation Liberty Hill volunteers have already begun cleanup work at 1401 US Hwy 183 working toward a move-in date in October. The buildings, which formerly housed LifeSprings Church, have been vacant and unkept since 2010. A fundraising campaign is under way to make needed repairs. (Claire Wilkison Photo)

By SHELLY WILKISON

With a growing client list and a need for more services, Operation Liberty Hill is moving to a larger facility and starting a fundraising campaign to make it usable.

Executive Director Susan Baker announced this week that the local food pantry and clothes closet will move from its current location on State Highway 29 to a permanent location at 1401 Hwy 183 in October.

“When we started, we had 45 clients and now we are at 180 per month with an average of four people per family,” said Baker.

The center’s first location was in a small house on Loop 323 near the entrance to Fellowship Church. Quickly, the organization outgrew the space, yet the families in need continued to pour through the doors. In January 2012, the organization adopted the name Operation Liberty Hill, and one year later secured a 501(c)3 charitable organization status from the IRS. In April 2013, a donor stepped forward and generously offered to pay the first year’s rent at a new location near Winkley’s. The donor continues to insist on remaining anonymous, Baker said.

“We have so many clients not because they are jobless,” Baker said. “Most are working poor. The spouse may work 10-12 hours a day at a minimum wage job and they have several kids. They aren’t earning enough to pay for day care, and they don’t have the skills to get a higher-paying job.”

Baker said many of the Liberty Hill clients are also elderly and some are disabled on fixed incomes.

Baker said that with more space, Operation Liberty Hill can better serve its clients. Currently, the faith-based organization provides food and clothing without charge. The center also assists the jobless in looking for work and tries to connect families with other organizations that offer assistance with medical and dental care. Counseling and bible study are also offered.

She said additional space will allow the program to open a thrift store, which will help sustain its operations. Furniture and other items donated to the center are currently stored off premises in storage units, and yard sales are held periodically to trade those items for monetary donations to help purchase food items.

Baker said with more space to operate a thrift store, the organization can eliminate the need for storage units and sell the items as they are donated.

“We’re finding that more people from Liberty Hill want to donate items to us rather than drive somewhere else,” she said.

She said additional space — more than 7,000 square feet — will also allow the organization to have computers available to assist with job searches and resume´ building.

Formerly the home of LifeSprings Church, the buildings that will house Operation Liberty Hill have set abandoned since the church moved in 2010. The property was purchased in 2010 by Williamson County. The site was intended to be a headquarters for ambulances working this side of the county. At the time, Williamson County Emergency Services District #4 lacked the space to house an ambulance and crew. But in 2011, the fire station was expanded for that purpose.

There are two buildings on the property. Because they have not been maintained since the church moved to its present location on State Highway 29, they have fallen into major disrepair.

Baker estimates it will take $90,000 to remodel both buildings, which includes replacing a roof and refurbishing the inside.

“Right now, our goal is to get into just one of the buildings, and we think that will take about $60,000,” she said.

Baker and the Operation Liberty Hill Board of Directors is seeking donations from the organization’s generous contributors. In addition to financial contributions, she said assistance in the form of materials and labor are also welcome.

While managed by Baker and some 25 volunteers, Operation Liberty Hill is overseen by a Board of Directors that includes Debi Johnston, Carol Parker, Randy O’Dell, Brian Butler, Jamie Etzkorn, Ann Witcher and Daryl Shipper.

Baker said the fundraising effort has already started as the organization is reaching out to its financial contributors asking for their involvement.

Those wishing to make a contribution to Operation Liberty Hill may go to the website, www.operationLH.org, and donate using PayPal. Checks may be mailed to Operation Liberty Hill, PO Box 1081, Liberty Hill, TX 78642, or dropped off at the current location.

For more information on Operation Liberty Hill and to find out how you can help, send email to operationLH@att.net or call (512) 913-2256.

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