The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 20, 2011

Churches, club ensure holiday meal for needy

Staff Writer

— A handful of churches and a faith-based club spent Monday putting the finishing touches on a hefty gift of food that will benefit hundreds of local families this holiday season.

Work began early Monday morning, when dozens of people descended on the Kelloggsville Church of the Nazarene in Monroe Township to help pack 109 food boxes that — along with toys — will be distributed today. A few hours later, two tons of potatoes were unloaded at the Conneaut Food Pantry, the spuds purchased by members of Conneaut’s Knights of Columbus Council 627.

Both charitable efforts have roots that date back decades, organizers said. The K of C has regularly provided potatoes at Christmas since the late 1960s, said Mike Pignotti. The Knights offered potatoes their own back in the days when several clubs concentrated on buying one specific food. Those other clubs have faded away, but the K of C continues the tradition.

Conneaut High School athletes helped unload the cargo of 800 five-pound bags. Nearly half will stay with the Conneaut Food Pantry, while the balance will go to other holiday food drives, Pignotti said. A big benefactor this year was Molded Fiber Glass in Ashtabula, which helped absorb some of the expense, he said.

The seven churches of the Kingsville Ministerial Association — Edgewood Alliance, First Baptist of Kingsville, Victory Center of North Kingsville, North Kingsville and Kingsville Presbyterian, Kelloggsville Church of the Nazarene and Conneaut Church of God — have been guaranteed a good holiday meal since the 1970s, said the Rev. David Hines, pastor at First Baptist. The churches learn of deserving families from their congregations and also through the Holiday Angels Loving Others organization.

On Monday, members filled 109 boxes with non-perishable food. Today, the boxes — supplemented by hams, frozen food and toys — will meet their new owners. Food collected from local schools and other campaigns supplemented the churches’ stockpile, officials said.

In all, the boxes will assist 449 people, 250 of them children, said the Rev. Gary Russell of Edgewood Alliance. Up to 20 businesses helped the churches purchase the food, a big help that allowed the churches to focus on toy-buying, he said. Each recipient family was contacted for gift ideas and clothing sizes, ensuring the kids will receive presents they really wanted — and that fit, too, Russell said.

The Kingsville Ministerial Association and parishioners looks forward to the food box program, Hines said. “It’s not a question of denomination, but a desire to be Christ’s hands and feet,” he said.