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DHS Employee Raised to Serve Others; Mom in 80s Still Setting Example

Date: 07/26/2016

Volunteering to help people in need is nothing new for Kandy Cayce, a 30+ year state employee who works in the DHS Division of Services for the Blind in Little Rock.  Her entire family was raised with a passion to help others.

Kandy’s family still lives in Thornton, a town of about 400 people in Calhoun County in south Arkansas where she grew up. More than 50 years ago, Kandy’s mother, Jo Ann Cayce, saw that people in her area needed help and knew there was no local agency to step in. So she took it upon herself to provide for others. The Cayce family became a sort of one-family charitable organization now called Cayce’s Charities. If someone in Thornton area needed something, JoAnn made sure they had it. 

And the need for help never went away. Kandy, her sister Joannie, and nephew Daniel are still involved in their mom’s mission today. Kandy said that people who know her often leave items in her carport and give her items at work. “I never know what I am going to find when I come home,” she says. 

When she goes back to Thornton, her car is often overflowing with items she’s collected or that have been donated. Today, Cayce’s Charities operates out of a school in Thornton that Jo Ann purchased when the school closed. Over the years they have expanded to serve an 11-county area in south Arkansas. Jo Ann also operates a food pantry.

Jo Ann, now 83, has been recognized often for her efforts and has been featured in several magazines, including Woman’s Day, Ladies Home Journal, and Family Circle. Jo Ann and Daniel have both been inducted into the Caring Hall of Fame in Washington D.C.

Kandy said her mom’s work is proof that one person can make difference and that she’s glad that she’s been part of the effort her whole life. “To do this becomes like breathing air. You don’t even think about it. You just see the need and act.”

Photo: On a recent rainy afternoon, Kandy loads donations she received at work into her car. 

Arkansas Department
of Human Services
(501) 682-1001

TTY: 1-800-285-1131 or dial 711 for Arkansas Relay Service

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