The ongoing inflation has driven a record number of families to seek assistance from organizations like Combined Community Services.
To help stock their food pantry to help local families, CCS is bringing back its Food-A-Thon Nov. 11-12.
“We’re seeing this huge need and we want to be able to help and impact as many families in our community as we can. And, so, we are bringing back again this year the Food-A-Thon,” Community Outreach Coordinator Kiira Churchill said. “It’s going to look a little bit more like normal, and it’ll be Nov. 11-12.”
Kensington Media Group (WRSW) is partnering with CCS on the Food-A-Thon and will be live at CCS, 1195 Mariners Drive, Warsaw.
“We’re hoping all of the grocery stores in town will participate. Kroger’s is on board and Meijer is on board to partner with us,” Churchill said.
Director of Client Assistance Tim Frame said they were still waiting to hear from a couple others as of this interview Oct. 26.
“So what is going to happen with that is, the radio station will be here on site. Folks will be able to come to CCS to make donations, but then we’ll have volunteers on site at participating grocery stores to accept donations as well. That will be really cool,” Frame explained.
Churchill said the need has been huge in the food pantry.
“We are exceeding pandemic numbers, and the problem is, with inflation and the rise in costs of food and gas and all of those things and housing and energy and all those things, we don’t have the resources that we had with Covid relief funds and things like that. We don’t have those resources any longer, so we are really depending on our community to step up and help us with that situation,” Frame said.
The extra resources that came in during the pandemic are gone, but the need is still there, he said.
Before the pandemic, CCS Executive Director Randy Polston said, on average per month, CCS saw 350 to 400 families. During the pandemic, they hovered around 600.
Frame said January was a record month, hitting almost 700 families. That leveled off, but then began increasing in April and May because of inflation. “It hasn’t plateaued yet,” he said, averaging over 650 families a month.
“We’re having a lot of new families coming in. They’re telling us, ‘We can’t afford groceries, so we just need that additional help’,” Frame said. “So the resources they do have isn’t taking care of what they’re used to taking care of so they’re coming to CCS to help offset that.”
Polston said, “With these challenges, anyway, donations have really dropped off the last few months. People are nervous. They’re trying to get themselves through this inflationary period and hoping and praying we’re not going to slip into a recession, but we’ve seen the donations drop and because of that, over the last couple of months … we’re starting to see bare spots on our shelves. So we’re really trying to get the word out on that and we are trying literally through September and now October to keep our head above water so that we can continue to feed people and impact people like that to get us into November here with Food-A-Thon.”
Churchill said the Food-A-Thon helps take care of “those tangible food items. And people are more than welcome to bring monetary donations as well, or gift cards, too.” CCS sometimes can get a little more for the dollar because of its nonprofit status.
Other Upcoming Events:
Turkey Lurkey 5K Run/Walk
To cover CCS’s operational needs, CCS will be holding their annual Turkey Lurkey 5K Run/Walk on Nov. 19 in Winona Lake. The race start time is at 10 a.m.
The event will be timed by the Kosciusko County Runners Association.
People can register online now at runsignup.com. All the information, including sponsorship opportunities, is on the CCS website.
Ami Pitt, CCS Project Independence and Hand-Up case manager, said drop-off for the 29th annual Toy Time is Dec. 12-15. Hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Home & Family Arts Building at the county fairgrounds.
“That’s the drop-off of good, quality, playable used toys so clean out those toy boxes and bring us everything you’re done playing with,” she said. “You don’t have to do anything to them, except make sure they’re clean. We do all the processing, so we will tag them. It’s a 50-50 split of what sells. If you choose to give your 50%, too, we just love you more.”
It is a consignment sale, but people can choose to donate their proceeds from their toys that sell.
On Dec. 17-18, “is one awesome toy sale. It is like a garage sale of 150 families with nothing but children’s items,” she said.
Pitt said that when they say “toys,” that’s anything to do with kids except clothing.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 17 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 18.
The toy giveaway will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 20 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 21.
With the money CCS makes from the consignment sale, 100% of that goes to purchase new toys. “We put those with Toys for Tots toys and then ABATE brings us baby and teen items and bicycles. And all of those entities working together, cover all of our kids for Christmas,” she said, noting it’s usually around 1,700 children.
Donations of new or used Bibles also will be accepted.