By Nicolee Thompson
For 23 years, Mitch etched memories into the hearts of everyone he met. Mitch lived life to the max. There was no in between with Mitch. His passion and will to win always pushed him to finish first. Mitch was never short of enthusiasm, energy and strength. Underneath the rough and tough exterior beat the heart of compassion and love for others no one will ever forget.
On Aug. 14, 2004, Mitch died in a drowning accident. At his wake, his family had the opportunity to meet hundreds of people who experienced his energy and excitement. After hearing from the hundreds who Mitch touched so deeply while on earth, his family knew they must carry on his legacy of serving others, and immediately Mitchell Swaback Charities (MSC), Inc., which fully funds Harvest Compassion Centers, was born.
MSC, Inc. launched Harvest Compassion Centers 10 years ago as a direct response to the recession. MSC, Inc. wanted to make impact daily, serve locally and truly love others as Mitch had.
Our mission is to provide food and clothing in a hope-filled environment to the underserved in the greater Phoenix area.
Harvest Compassion Centers (HCC) around the Valley are one-stop shopping experiences for families and individuals in need. HCC welcomes all to shop for free food, hygiene, baby and clothing items once every 30 days. More than 1,500 volunteers run each HCC location annually. Harvest Compassion Centers have fed, clothed and served over 100,000 people since opening and now has three Valley locations and opening soon in West Phoenix.
As COVID-19 hit the Valley, HCCs jumped into action feeding and serving families five days a week, never once closing our doors! Everyone is welcome to attend a monthly shopping trip where they can choose grocery, home and clothing items. No items are ever pre-boxed or bagged for HCC clients; it feels like a normal shopping mini-mart and clothing boutique. Every piece of clothing donated to the HCC is sorted, laundered and ironed ensuring that quality pieces are being presented to the public.
We want each person who visits us to feel completely dignified when they shop from us, it is so important to have quality items and offer a normal shopping experience. There is also a play corner for kids to play and read while mom and dad shop.
We provide the physical items that families need so they can pay their rent and utilities. Kids in Arizona at the very least deserve a home and three meals a day, however when families visit HCC, they also receive the hope they need to get back on their feet.
How can you give back this fall?
- Host a Food Drive: The Harvest Compassion Center depends on local schools, churches, businesses and community groups to host individual food and hygiene drives to keep our shelves well stocked. Whether you’re a Boy Scout, branch manager or head pastor we encourage everyone to be creative and host your own food drive benefiting the HCC. During the holiday season, HCC also collects new toys to hand out in December.
- Join HCC’s Kids Program: Serving SPROUTS is a fun, community-service program aimed for kids. Whether your children are 2 or 18, we want you to become a Serving SPROUT! Each SPROUT will dream up little and big ways of earning $28 a month to feed families in our community. Yes, it only costs HCC $28 a month to feed one family. This program is designed to walk alongside moms and dads teaching our younger generation the importance in serving, community and giving.
- Donate: Harvest Compassion Centers are funded 100 percent by the generosity of others, HCCs accept no government funding and/or product. Please consider donating today and feed a family. All gifts made to Harvest Compassion Centers qualify for the AZ Tax Credit.
Nicolee Thompson is the executive director at Harvest Compassion Center. For information on volunteering, hosting a food drive and/or donating, visit harvestcompassioncenter.org.
Photos courtesy of Harvest Compassion Center