By MARK TODD - firstname.lastname@example.org
An unprecedented need is being met with a heartwarming response this holiday season, said Renea Roach, director of the Conneaut Food Pantry.
Many clubs, organizations, businesses and individuals are showing compassion for their neighbors with sizable contributions to the local food bank, Roach said. Others have launched incentive programs — with the Pantry as the recipient.
“Christmas brings out the best in people,” she said. “Hopefully this good month will help carry us into the new year.”
More and more people in Conneaut are turning to the Food Pantry for their daily meals, Roach said. The economy is still stalled in region at the same time government assistance programs are being trimmed, and the result is more people in need of a helping hand, she said.
“We’re facing a lot of homeless and seeing more senior citizens,” Roach said. “Actually, our overall numbers for emergency assistance are increasing. Those would could (maintain) their budget two years now find they can’t.”
In response, many in Conneaut await the holidays to launch food drives. For example, after Thanksgiving the Orlando Brothers Golden Dawn supermarket began accepting donations from customers for the Pantry, with the goal of matching every dollar after the $1,000 mark. That mark has been eclipsed and continues to climb, he said.
“We’d like to hit $4,000 by the end of the year,” Orlando said. “We want to give back to the community, and the Food Pantry has always been there for people.”
Plenty of others are giving Conneaut’s Pantry special attention this month, including:
• Biscotti’s Restaurant in Conneaut is donating $1 to the Conneaut Food Pantry for every gift certificate sold through Christmas.
Certificates are available in any denomination at the restaurant, 186 Park Ave., which opens at 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Certificates can also be purchased via mail. For more information, call Biscotti’s at 593-6766.
• Conneaut Public Library, which is offering to waive fines for overdue material with the donation of a non-perishable food item through December. One item is required for every $1 of fine. Toothpaste, deodorant and toilet paper are always welcome, too, organizers said. For more information, contact Amanda Smith at the library (593-1608).
• Circle K stores in the area are handing out free coffee and Polar Pops in exchange for a donation to the Conneaut, Ashtabula and Jefferson food pantries. The campaign ends today.
• Ashtabula County Medical Center spent a week in December collecting food for the Pantry.