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God's Outreach matches donations with needs

BY SUSAN KIM | OWENSBORO, KY | January 18, 2000

OWENSBORO, KY (Jan. 18, 2000) -- David Mudd's talent for networking

hasn't made him rich. But it has fed thousands of people.

In an Owensboro warehouse -- its only adornment a sign that says

"God's Outreach" -- Mudd wheels and deals on behalf of hungry people.

On any given day, 363 days a year, he might be calling grocery chains

for a pallet of peanut butter, a semi-load of soap, a half-ton of

rice. The next day he might be trading the peanut butter for bottled

water, distributing the soap to disaster response organizations, and

splitting up the rice and shipping it to food pantries in Kentucky,

Ohio, Tennessee, and Indiana.

Mudd unites corporations willing to donate to people in need. The

5,000-square-foot warehouse has about 15,000 square feet of storage,

thanks to shelves that extend upward. Mudd also secured another

20,000-square-foot warehouse, "and I'm working on more," he said.

Though Mudd will try to help anybody who walks in the door, this

isn't a place that serves meals or gives out food to individuals.

Instead, God's Outreach is designed to supply the places and agencies

that do serve the individuals.

That may be why food pantries, relief agencies, and churches report

that, whenever they have a need, Mudd tends to appear. God's

Outreach, Inc. is nondenominational andfocused on helping people,

whoever they are, get through crises.

Now that a tornado has left more than 1,200 people displaced in

Owensboro, part of Mudd's attention has turned toward disaster

survivors.

Just after the tornado struck, he sent bulk food and supplies to the

Owensboro Sports Center, where survivors gathered in an American Red

Cross shelter.

He supplied soup to local churches, who cooked it and sent volunteer

teams door-to-door to feed survivors afraid to leave their damaged

homes because of the potential of looting.

When the Red Cross called in need of aspirin and Tylenol, God's

Outreach supplied it. And when volunteers needed empty boxes to help

people remove salvageable items from their homes, Mudd was on hand

with empty banana boxes.

The disaster has already affected his normal yearly quantities. "I

usually order 5,000 blankets," he said. "But I can already tell I'm

going to need more."

Mudd said he is concerned about survivors who may have long-term

needs left unmet by federal aid. "I'm worried about people who didn't

have renter's insurance," he said.

And people who are temporarily living with friends and families could

also surface with long-term needs. "I know what's going to happen.

People will move in with other families, and those families won't be

financially able to handle that, especially if, say, somebody is out

of work because of the disaster. In six weeks, where will we be?"

A volunteer from a local church knocks on the warehouse door. She is

recovering from open heart surgery, and can't help yet, but she wants

to put her name on the list now.

"Check back the first part of next week," Mudd tells her. "We're

still lining up trucks and figuring out what the needs will be." He

has been attending meetings with relief groups in town.

While he administers to disaster survivors, he is also continuing the

outreach he always does -- supplying a food program for seniors,

scores of food pantries, women's shelters, homeless shelters.

Mudd's background is in the furniture business, not in food. In fact,

his family's store, Mudd's Furniture, is still open in town. That's

where the seed for God's Outreach got planted.

While at the store, talking with local customers and business people,

Mudd began making and taking calls for donations. "Then I started

getting so many calls, I knew there was a big need out there for

these types of products."

He secured a warehouse, and decided to name the effort God's Outreach

because the first letters spell GO.

"I had no experience in food, but my father dabbled in the salvage

business. I highly relate to that, only I deal only with new

products."

God's Outreach also has a nondenominational Outreach Center, at which

live bands are hosted, children and adults share stories, and local

churches hold activities.

Dubbed 'the networking Santa,' Mudd is known around town for showing

up when there's a need. Like most savvy business people, Mudd is

ambitious -- but in a different way. "I'd like to see this place shut

down because all the needs are met."

Dealing in donations is never dull, he said, and sometimes the

combination of business sense and sheer faith works extraordinarily

well.

"Once we sent some trucks to help supply a food pantry in

Pennsylvania, and somewhere along the line ended up with a truck full

of new clothes. We weren't sure what we were going to do with that,

but then we found a spouse abuse shelter that just used them all."

Sometimes it's hard to match a donation with someone in need. "This

guy called us, and he had three semi-loads of bed pans," he said. "We

hooked him up overseas with somebody starting a hospital."

If a donation is just too weird, Mudd turns it down. "Like the guy

who called about coffins. We just said 'no thanks.'

"Although, you know," Mudd said. "People could probably use coffins.

You can cut them up and make end tables and coffee tables."

Posted Jan. 18, 2000


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