Bonnie Johnson, founder of Helping Hands, dies

Church of Helping Hands & Caring Hearts volunteers Charlotte Daniels (left) and Pat Smith (center) help church founder Bonnie Johnson (right) prepare for Kids Night at the church in December.

The Benton and Saline County communities lost a pair of helping hands when Bonnie Johnson passed away early Thursday morning after a battle with cancer.

Johnson, 66, was known for her compassion and selfless spirit of helping others.

Bob McDaniels of Outside the Walls Ministries in Benton described her as “an icon in Benton and Saline County.”

Johnson was a founder of The Church Helping Hands of Caring Hearts, which she opened in the former Benton Skate Center 18 years ago with her best friend Charolette Daniels.

Through Helping Hands, Bonnie and her staff have fed thousands of Saline County’s most vulnerable families throughout the years. McDaniels also said she provided clothing and supplies to hundreds of Saline County’s low income families.

During the dangerously cold temperatures in December, Johnson’s church was the only one to open its doors as a warming center.

They took in as many people as they could safely fit in the church.

For the homeless and low income families, Helping Hands was the best resource in the area, McDaniels said.

“Day after day, people would go to Helping Hands asking Bonnie to pray for them,” said McDaniels.

Johnson also founded Sheltering Arms, a non-profit to help people struggling with drug addiction. Johnson started the non-profit after drug addiction killed her brother.

“She’s hired and mentored countless addicts when they needed someone to believe in them,” said McDaniels. “She has fought the opioid crisis in our community. She has taken many women into her own home when they had no where to go. The list goes on and on.”

Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, March 27, at Roller-Alcoa Funeral Home in Benton.

Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 28, in Pinecrest Cemetery in Alexander.

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