Excerpt from the Mansfield News Journal, written by Lou Whitmire.
“Between 800 and 900 families received food for the Christmas holiday from Grace Episcopal Church food pantry Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.
“Known as the church with the red door at the corner of Third and Bowman streets, the Christmas food pantry operation included many volunteers working under a new hoop structure provided with a grant received from the F. Wayne and Isabel Bogan Young Fund at the Richland County Foundation, said Rev. Joe Ashby.”
The 688 households we served for Thanksgiving is over 70 more than last year. To top it all off, we did it all outside and packed all the boxes ourselves.
And we’ll do it again for Christmas on Monday, December 21 from 4 to 6 p.m. and Tuesday, December 22 from 9 to 11 a.m.
North Central State
North Central State
Thanks to Bob Windsor, who navigated us back into Meijer Simply Give, from whence our 4,800 cookies came! Good to see Bob when we picked up the cookies. You see in the photo our “sweeties” framed in Meijer’s cookie box tops and our 20 + pallets of packed Thanksgiving boxes in the background.
Fr. Joe has done it again with the help of Richland County Foundation, $6,000 grant to provide a greenhouse for winter distribution. We will close Dec 2 and 3 to construct. The end walls will come later.
Error in the slips that went out, so we will be open two Wednesdays in a row (the 9th & 6th).
The Pantry will be closed December 2nd, 3rd, 30th, and 31st.
Every time I have written about the pantry for some time, I write about Grace. God seems to have “a vested interest.” Our pantry is beautiful to experience – the people, gifts, growth, faith, kids, … on and on.
I haven’t been picked up by the police from our pantry either.
Have you heard? In August a Police Officer approached one of our volunteers while he was handing meat out at the drive-through line. We kept distributing. The officer walked him to the patrol car, asked him to get in. By this time, I was standing nearby and asked the officer if he would bring our volunteer back. I believe that he responded yes, they just needed him for questioning. Neither of them returned that day. I later learned that our volunteer had been put in jail for theft of two dollars in change. Something his family claimed he was given for helping a white couple move. The couple pressed charges and our volunteer had a $10,000 bond. His family arranged to get him out with partial payment. Even though all charges were later dismissed, the family is out $1,200 which has been a hardship.
How could this happen? This is a bizarre story. I talked with the officer’s supervisor who confirmed, “yes, this is all over $2 in change.” Does it make a difference that our volunteer was black? I could not imagine this ever happening to my white son. Fr. Joe has been trying to get answers to how the bail could have been set so high?
If Grace Pantry is a generator of Grace, how can one of our poor volunteers be picked up while working, be subjected to three months of persecution (now, inexplicably, the couple is seeking restraining order against HIM), and left $1200 poorer?
Fr Joe and I have recognized that we need to do some work. Could we have protected our volunteer? Could the outcome have been different? Internally, how are our volunteers experiencing the pantry differently? Are there ways that some are treated unequally? We will gather all willing volunteers and with the help of the diocese and our Commission??? on Racism, hear differing perspectives, and find common understandings for our work.
September 23rd and 24th we served 350 households which would be about 500 by Bonnie’s count. We can expect the need to increase over the winter. Hopefully we are not done improving our distribution in pandemic. Fr Joe, Tony Herz and I have searched our area for a winter pantry location that would help us continue our drive through. We have looked at former bank, car dealership, or warehouse locations. If you have any ideas, please call one of us.
Also, if anyone has a lead on a factory roller conveyor, we have imagined that a section of that could help us move boxes. Our new chest freezer on wheels is making all of us smile, and we will soon move our new dual fridge/freezer unit into the kitchen.
Again, I cannot thank volunteers enough. Some new people have found low-risk ways to slip in to action and our veterans led by Pat and Terri continue to adapt and keep us humming. Many of you have seen Andrew and Jacob’s reflections on the Grace YouTube channel, well worth viewing if you haven’t.
Soon we will make available some more interviews from Pantry volunteers. One highlight to me is how even Riley (though who of us is surprised) notices how confused we were when we converted to drive through, but how well it works now. God’s Grace again. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your work. Thank God for our mission.
I cannot write enough gratitude to cover all that is happening at the pantry to feed people, which means to me that Grace is flowing freely through the pantry and with those working remotely. A few anecdotes: Gloria and Pam (recipient volunteers) insisted on returning to the pantry. Pam fed us all banana bread last week. And Gloria now sweeps the floor during the end of every distribution, calling herself the “Floor Manager.” Don and Paulette come on Tuesdays to work with Pat, and have made a huge psychological impact by doing jobs we would not easily get to. Two volunteers have been coming regularly from First Christian. Nelson has fixed many of our bikes, making for some very happy riders. A new volunteer, Sally, now comes every Thursday from First Christian and is quickly becoming integral. (She also donated her husband’s bicycle, one of the best we have ever given. Sally met her future husband on the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure and rode together for 50 + years till he recently passed away.) Grace flowing out of, in to, Grace. Joe received a hundred dollars from a former recipient who said they do not need the food now, but want us to stay strong!
We say good bye to two men who have given us strength in the last 5 months. Jacob and Andrew Stump now anticipate and meet the needs of our distribution with great aplomb. Jacob has also grown an inch over the summer, probably from all the ice cream at his second job! Neither of them slow down long enough at the church to take on any nourishment. We will miss them as they go to further their education, but they have taught us how it is done!
We served 362 households in the last week of August, which would have been a normal week last year. 1162 households in the month of August, a typical month for last year. While our numbers for the last three months were 70% of who we served during the same three months of 2019, it seems that we are increasing significantly. Our “new” electric pallet jack is a help.
We are now exploring options for safe winter distribution so if you have ideas give Fr. Joe or I a call and watch for more news.
This year’s Kokosing Food Drive was an enormous success. Kokosing employees Jerry Estep, Mike Matheny, Brian Strong, Steve Thompson, and Lee Erhardt collected 937 non-perishable food items. In addition to the generous gift of food items, they raised a monetary donation, which when met with Kokosing’s company match, totaled $9,757.00!
This generous gift was delivered in two trucks and presented to Fr. Joe Ashby and Marti Wellendorf, Food Pantry Director, Jerry Estep, Terminal Manager, on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at Kokosing Materials Mansfield Terminal. On hand to take the photo was the Vice President of Kokosing, Inc., Mr. Lee Schloss.
We would like to express our sincere and deepest Thanks for this fantastic gift. This donation will help us buy 100,000 meals. Each year we supply around 250,000 meals to families in need of aid in Richland County.
Again, we say thank you to Kokosing Inc. and to Kokosing Materials and their wonderful employees for their generous gifts to our Food Pantry to help fulfill our mission of feeding our neighbors.