John Williams was excited when the National Guard loaded up his vehicle with grapes, apples, potatoes, watermelon, yams and oranges, but he knew his kids would get a kick out of something else he was bringing home.
“If you got kids, you know how excited they would be to see Mountain Dew Blue coming into the house,” said Williams of Masury.
Williams was one of the 150 families who drove up to Brookfield United Methodist Church on Oct. 2 and drove away with lots of goodies courtesy of Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley, said church Pastor Dick Smith.
“It’s more than I would have expected,” said Williams, a laid off sales rep.
The church buys from Second Harvest for its food pantry, and Second Harvest was looking to have a giveaway in eastern Trumbull County, Smith said. The food bank also held a giveaway Oct. 17 at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, Masury, and Oct. 26 at Yankee Lake.
Second Harvest has been stepping up its produce giveaways to three or four a week ever since Gov. Mike DeWine assigned the Guard to help out, said Second Harvest delivery driver James Naples.
“We’ve distributed 2 million pounds more through the first six months than we did last year,” Naples said. “It’s been really great.”
The need for food has “almost doubled” since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he said. Luckily, the supply has kept up.
“We get an abundance,” Naples said. “We’ve been real blessed with a lot of different volunteers from different companies and then churches and farms, even, giving us produce. We had a donation for 14,000 cucumbers yesterday. We get it, it goes out just as quick as it comes in.”
Williams said it was great to see the Guardsmen helping out.
“That takes a special kind of person,” he said. “Selfless acts, that’s what it’s all about.”
Sgt. Kyle Kirin of the 1192nd Engineering Co., Ravenna/Newton Falls, called the experience of helping Second Harvest “awesome.”
“People are very grateful,” he said. “Everyone’s very polite to you. It feels nice to actually give back to the community, instead of just doing our monthly thing. We’re actually making a difference for once, so it’s nice.”
Naples promised that more produce giveaways will be held in the area.
“Once we get in somewhere, we push the agenda,” he said. “We try to make sure we come back. If there’s people we can feed, we’ll feed them.”
Local food pantries:
Brookfield United Methodist Church, 6951 Grove St., 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 14 and 28. Information: 330-448-1001.
Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, 8148 Ulp St., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 21. Information: 330-448-6731.
Salvation Army at Living Waters Community Church, 7382 Stewart Sharon Road, 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 2o. Information: 330-568-8033.
Blessing boxes (take what you need, whenever you want):
Office of Dr. Joseph Fonagy, 7159 Warren Sharon Road.
SixFourteen Church, 1382 Broadway Ave.