The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 21, 2012

53 families’ Thanksgiving bit brighter

By WARREN DILLAWAY - warren@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — “Pay it forward” takes on special meaning for Dawn Ondo, manager of Harassments Bar and Grill, and her volunteers who try and bring a bit of Thanksgiving cheer to area residents in need.

“I do this (volunteer) because I’ve been there (in need),” said Kim Wick after helping a family to their vehicle carrying a turkey and complete Thanksgiving Day dinner dressings. She said she especially enjoys helping children.

Charles Crim (also a volunteer) also carried food for a needy family. “I enjoy helping people,” he said.

Many people have volunteered their time to make the Thanksgiving preparations possible at the bar that has been helping area families for 17 years.

Dawn Ondo, manager of Harassments Bar and Grill, said she has been coordinating the drive for the last 12 years and many volunteers have stepped up to help her.

“Over the past few years I’ve gotten more and more volunteers. I’ve become more the chief not an Indian,” Ondo said of her supervisory role that includes coordinating shopping and distribution of the food.

Ondo said she has also seen her share of difficulty and wants to make the dinner special for area families. “I try to put everything in their basket that will be on my table (Thanksgiving Day),” she said.

The Manna Project, a Jefferson area food bank, provides the names of needy families in the Jefferson area with five or more members each year. She said her food drive included 12 volunteers fanning out to area stores to make sure they got the biggest bank for their buck.

Ondo said they received $2,000 in cash donations to make the drive a success in addition to help from 24 area businesses and organizations. She was especially excited because they were able to add a bit of a bonus to the basket this year.

“This is the first year in a lot of years we’ve been able to do pies and cool whip,” Ondo said. She said the gratitude of the people receiving the baskets keeps her going.

“The people really appreciate it,” she said.