A sign, operated by the Reaching Hands Group, welcomes people to Junciton City from its location on Washington Street.

The Reaching Hands Group sprung out of the former morning Rotary Club, when Lyle Everitt and several of his fellow, remaining members decided their club dues would be better spent helping community members directly.

“We wanted a local nonprofit organization to help the elderly, indigent, (and) disabled here in Junction City,” Everitt said.

The club dissolved and the new group, which helps disabled veterans and other people in need in the area, sprung up in its place.

“We want to be able to take the money and go and help people,” Everitt said.

The group was tired, he said, of seeing thousands of dollars worth of dues go out of the community, which is why it formed.

“I want to keep stuff here in Junction City,” Everitt said. “We need to help our people.”

The group has also helped people in surrounding communities such as Grandview Plaza and Milford.

“We wanted all money to stay locally, because with the other groups, you’re always paying dues and sending money out,” he said. “So that’s why we started this up.”

The group has funded itself by holding fundraisers and listing sponsors for $360 a year on a sign on Washington Street which Everitt described as being near the Subway restaurant at 1128 S. Washington St., where the Dairy Queen used to be located. The scrolling sign has been around since the group was still a Rotary Club and is also used to promote free, public events in the area.

However, he said, fundraiser money has been going down as the economy in Junction City shrinks.

Everitt, who is the president of the Reaching Hands Group, said the group is entirely volunteer-operated, which includes himself and his fellow board members.

He said the group is happy to accept new volunteers. It has help from local Boy Scouts and the JROTC. Volunteer work is done on the weekends, he said, whenever someone in need requests assistance.

Donated funds go toward helping local people in need and keeping the sign operating and the area around it maintained.

The group has, in its recent history, purchased jackets for the homeless in Junction City. Everitt said he routinely offers food to local homeless individuals, when he has the opportunity.

“A lot of it is working with the contractors and others too, if we get a major project,” he said.

Major projects have included fixing doors and decks for people in need — alleviating blight, which has sometimes plagued portions of Junction City. The group also helps with yard work such as picking up trash and raking leaves.

“We don’t have a lot of money, that’s what I tell people,” Everitt said. “We don’t have a lot of money, and especially now this year, it’s gotten worse … The last three fundraisers have not been over $30.”

However, the help is entirely free-of-charge, Everitt said, to those who qualify for the help such as disabled veterans.

“We won’t charge them,” he said. “That’s one of the things we’ve had is that they think we’re going to give them a bill when we’re done. We’re not. We just go out, we get the job done.”

To volunteer or to request more information on the Reaching Hands Group, please call Everitt at 785-226-0335 or email RHGroup@cox.net.

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