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EARLIER: Helping Hand closes

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By Bobbie Lanham

Shelby County Helping Hand has discontinued helping the needy in Shelby County.

The charity, after 21 years of assistance with rent, utilities and food, is responding to the national economic downturn and current financial crush of many small business and charities.

"We are no longer receiving [enough] funding from churches and businesses," Chairman, Sylvia Marshall said.

Marshall said the donations available to disperse have decreased since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"We've helped a lot of Shelby Countians, even people traveling through town," Marshall said.

The charity was begun by the Shelby County Ministerial Alliance to function much like the Salvation Army, first meeting at the Henderson House on Main Street in Shelbyville, when it was a mission of First Baptist Church, and continuing after the Henderson House was sold and transferred to Victory Baptist Church.

Marshall said that many times when funds were not available volunteers dipped into their own pockets to get money to help. She said she rued the end of the charity with bittersweet feelings.

"We just hated to close. But it just wasn't feasible to stay," she said.