Helping hands meet at the Humanitarian center


Lesley Moreno, Reporter

The Idaho Falls Humanitarian Center, located at 1415 Northgate Mile, seeks to alleviate suffering both locally and around the world. The center is a place where families and friends go to volunteer and donate. Some of the things they make to donate are handmade quilts, newborn quilts, newborn kits, medical dolls, health and comfort items, etc. 

Most of the time, it’s usually senior citizens who go and volunteer. They say volunteering gives them meaning and joy to their life. “I love the purpose, and we all feel so much better here. We laugh where there might not be laughter at home,” one volunteer said. 

The center is not sponsored by any individual faith; rather, it is community-based. They don’t talk about religion and politics. They try and get more of the community involved in participating to help people in need. They are also a non-profit organization. Any school, counseling center, or church could ask for donations. 

They send their services all around East Idaho on Wednesdays and fill orders on Mondays and Tuesdays. They have a man who calls to see if anybody needs anything, or people will call him to let him know what they need. 

In addition, to stations where volunteers can work on handmade items, the humanitarian center even has a non-profit drug and alcohol treatment center where people can go and get the help they need. Margeret Taylor, a team member/volunteer, says they don’t call it a hand out, they call it a hand up. When homeless people have nowhere to stay, the humanitarian center gives them a hand up by giving them a cushion made with plastic bags that they crotchet, for comfort and to keep them from sleeping directly on the ground. (Plastic items are a simple item many people have in abundance that can be donated to help this cause.)

Taylor first started working at the Humanitarian Center as a church calling for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but it quickly turned into something she is passionate about. She takes care of the fabric and specializes in the flannel. She has been there since they first opened, in February of 2010, when they opened in a church. “ As a senior citizen, it gives me purpose. That’s the way everyone is here,” she said. “It was the first time in my life I had ever felt like anybody was inspired to ask me to do something because I had a degree in Homic Economics Education.”  

Taylor grew up in a home where her mother was involved with thrift stores. She watched her mother and grandmother get involved in those types of organizations. She said, “I want to serve in a community aspect rather than totally serving in the church.” So even though the center was originally started by the Church of Jesus Christ, they try to unite people rather than divide them, and anyone who wants to help is welcome to come any time.

Sandy Blacker, another volunteer, said she and her daughter planned a family night there to volunteer. “We came in because we wanted to do something to help other people,” Blacker said. They said there is always something for someone to do, and they both agreed the service is not painful. Volunteers can visit with friends and family, and dropping in to help is easy since all of the materials are already ready for you. 

The center is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:00 AM-3:00 PM.

Over the past years they have grown so much, from being in a church with 25 volunteers producing 6000 products to donate, to having a building, to having 175,000 hours of service being donated, and to having 59,167 items produced and donated yearly.