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Panhandle Spirit: Women's Philanthropy Fund

Serving free meals at the Donley County Senior Citizens Center, thanks in part, to the Women's Philanthropy Fund.(ABC7 Amarillo)

Women helping women is the mission of a special group here in the Panhandle.

It's the Women's Philanthropy Fund, which operates through the Amarillo Area Foundation.

This month, they awarded $40,000 in grants to several deserving non-profits, including the Donley County Senior Citizens Center.

Every weekday in Clarendon, there's a free, hot lunch waiting for anyone who wants one. On this particular day, it's soup and salad--chicken noodle or broccoli cheese, or both. Center director Kaitlynn Shields says it's a daily routine for about two dozen regulars.

"You know, you'll come in and they'll say, 'Oh, how's your son doing?', and 'How is so-and-so doing?'. Everyone knows everyone here. It doesn't matter if I knew him my whole life, or if I knew him for 5 minutes," Shields said.

But it's more than a social gathering. For many of the 130 or so who get lunch each day, it's a literal life-saver. Amy Lovell, the Director of Development for the Amarillo Area Foundation said when the center applied for its grant, they shared a story of elderly neighbors who took turns each week, ordering a meal and then splitting it. The staff finally convinced them they had enough food for both of them, daily.

"Those organizations come here with their specific needs and it's always heart-warming to see the women of the Texas Panhandle come together and meet those needs, and take care of their fellow women and children," Lovell said.

And that's why the fund was formed ten years ago, when a group of women realized they could pool their own resources, along with that of donors, and have a greater impact on those less fortunate.

“It's really opened my eyes to things that other women in the Texas Panhandle, and helped me think of ways that I could help."

And in Donley County, they're living the Panhandle Spirit, with a simple invitation-- Want to come join us for lunch? We have a plate waiting for you.

“They become family. They realize that we're here for them, and they're here for us in return. We have some really sweet people," Shields said.

Kaitlynn says they're open to anyone, not just senior citizens, so you can drop in anytime. You can also give her a call if you want to help deliver meals to those who can't get around very well.

And if you'd like to be part of The Giving Circle at the Women's Philanthropy Fund, reach out to the Amarillo Area Foundation.

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