Saturday, November 21, 2015

Serving the Needy, Giving Food to the Hungry at St. Mary's Painesville ("Just Thoughts" article)

[Ed and Krista Zivkovich write about what we are doing at St. Mary's in Painesville, Ohio.]

A Year of Helping Generously

In March of this year St. Mary's began its 4th year of hosting a monthly "Mobile Pantry" for local

persons and families in need.  This was done in partnership with the Greater Cleveland

Foodbank and under the sponsorship of our St. Vincent de Paul Organization.  Once a month

the Foodbank delivered a truckload of fresh fruits and vegetables and additional foods such as

yogurt, breads, and pastries at no charge.  Upon delivery, a band of hard-working volunteers

then went to work dividing up and often bagging these various food items into household-sized

Another group handled the registrations, assisted invaluably by our bi-lingual volunteers.  This

year, with help from Greater Cleveland Foodbank staff and thanks to our church's generous

extension of wi-fi coverage over to the Fr. Hanzo Family Center, we were able to switch to a

computerized registration system.  This change greatly increased the accuracy and efficiency of

our record keeping and reduced the time it takes to register those who received food.

Once everyone was registered, some volunteers helped distribute the food while others helped

those needing assistance to get food and load it into their cars.  A big thank you also goes to

our local Giant Eagle store for providing bags and loaning us the grocery carts we used each

month.  Additional thanks to the Perry IGA store for also donating grocery bags.

In keeping with Pope Francis' call to be better stewards of the gift of creation, and as part of our

parish's efforts to recycle as much as possible, all cardboard boxes which were left were broken

down and taken to a recycling station, along with recyclable plastics and paper.  Discarded fruit

and vegetable matter was collected and taken to be composted thanks to parishioner Bill

At our nine monthly Mobile Pantries beginning in March and ending this month, November, we

distributed a total of 102,956 pounds (that's 51 tons!) of fresh, healthy foods to an average of

591 people living in 162 households each month.  51% were either children or seniors.

While most of our volunteers were St. Mary's parishioners, we had help at various times from

members of St. Gabriel's, St. Mary's Chardon, and St. Mary Magdalene, as well as several folks

who came to receive food but then pitched right in to do the work that was needed. We can't say

thank you enough to all the volunteers who made this possible.

Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you" and challenged us in the Gospels to help

and support them.  Thanks to our parishioners, our other volunteers, and the Foodbank and its

contributors, the poor are being fed, and will continue to be fed, here at St. Mary's.

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