As we begin a new year here at the pantry, we want to take a moment to reflect on the previous year and acknowledge everyone who has helped bring us through it.
At this time a year ago, our pantry was facing an uncertain future. With eviction from our Gould Ave. location looming, we were unsure as to where we would call home. Through what some would call divine intervention, we were rescued by the generosity of The Vine Wesleyan church. With much hard work and well over $9,000 in donations from the church membership, The Vine renovated their unused four-car garage into our new home. Thank you to the Vine family for providing our clients with a bright, warm and easily accessible facility.
This past year, we reached out to the other food pantries in our area, renewing old partnerships and establishing new ones. Working together with St. Martha’s and Trinity on such projects as the mail handlers’ food drive and the food express, we were all able to learn, share and cooperate for the benefit of all of our clients. We look forward to growing those relationships in the new year.
Over the course of this past year, we reached out to several new business and community partners in an effort to supplement the non-perishable foods we distribute to our clients. From fresh vegetables provided by a local Girl Scout troop and several local church gardens, to day old bakery products from Tops, Panera Bread and Costanzo’s bakery. From freshly prepared ground beef, chicken and pork from the Deli Shop to frozen meats from Target. Without our new partners, we would not have been able to provide a wholesome and nutritious variety of food to our clients.
Throughout 2015, we took every opportunity we could to share the plight of our clients with the people in our community. Speaking before such organizations as DUCA and the Lancaster / Depew Chamber of Commerce, we were able to reach many people and businesses. In the new year, we look forward to turning that dialog into new opportunities for the pantry.
With moving into a new building came new neighbors. With new neighbors came wonderful gifts for our clients. Two annual events that our clients are most thankful for are our Thanksgiving basket distribution and our children’s Christmas party. As in years past, we are thankful for the generosity of the Vine Wesleyan church for providing baskets of food for each of our clients so they can cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. This year also provided an opportunity to meet our new neighbors, Restoration Church Twin Village and Centerpointe Community Church, as they joined with the Vine Wesleyan church to provide the children of our clients with a wonderful Christmas party. We look forward to working with our old and new neighbors in the coming year.
This past year, we were overwhelmed with the many new faces we have seen helping us inside and outside the pantry. Many new volunteers have signed on and assisted in food distribution, stocking shelves, food pickup and behind the scene support. We have also been fortunate to benefit from the generosity of scores of people outside of the pantry. The annual mail handlers’ and Depew firefighter food drives. The Halloween and Stuff-A-Bus food drives organized by the students and staff of the Depew School District. The many food drives held at local businesses and organizations. The many faces that go into organizing these food drives and the many faces that contribute to these food drives. Each and every item distributed to our clients has been touched by so many generous and hard-working people. We look forward to see these same faces as well as many new ones in the coming year.
Last year, we began the process to move our pantry to the Client Choice model of food distribution. We feel that doing this will move us closer to our goal of providing nutritious food to all of our clients while treating them with dignity and respect. This year, client choice will become a reality.
Unfortunately, we anticipate the difficulties experienced by the community that we serve to continue to grow. Each day, we see more new clients come to our pantry in search of food. Single people, families, the elderly. Hunger shows on each of their faces. As we address this growing need, we need to look for new sources of food and funding. We need to build new relationships with our community. We need to enlist new volunteers. These are the new challenges that we will face this new year.
Looking back, what an exciting and wonderful year we have had at the pantry! We want to thank everyone for the support and generosity you have provided to our clients. Looking forward to the new year, together, we will continue to fight hunger in our community.