“For I was hungry and you gave me food” Matthew 25:35
Every Monday and Wednesday from 11am to 2:30pm a small but mighty group of dedicated volunteers arrive at the corner of Lake Shore Blvd and Huntmere Ave. and the Collinwood Interfaith Church Council Food Pantry comes to life. The pantry serves nearly 600 clientss a month. Many are seniors on fixed incomes or families with young children. The pantry supplies 3 days of food per house hold member each month. They also distribute clothing, from infant items to adult sizes, kitchen items, and toiletries.
On any given day you will find volunteers from St. Jerome, St. John Lutheran, and St. Anselm churches. It is a labor of love with volunteers becoming part of each other’s extended families. And the volunteer habit is often passed from one generation to the next. The morning I visited Allison, a St. Jerome student, and Tyler, a student at St. Martin de Porres high school, were there with their grandmother, Marcie Johns, a longtime volunteer from St. Jerome parish. JoAnne Janesko, from St. John Lutheran brought her granddaughter, Sydnie, a student at Wickliffe High. Some of the students are earning service hours needed for high school, Allison was working on a Girl Scout service badge. “We love the young people’s energy and enthusiasm.” said volunteer coordinator LeeAnn Tanner, from St. Jerome. We are happy to have students come here to get their service hours, but they need to call ahead and make arrangements. It is not a huge space, so if 12 people showed up one day, we wouldn’t be able to use them all."
Sherry Kita and Gail Kaib were working the front desk, helping clients check in and recertify, which they need to do each July. They both find the work very rewarding and have been doing it for a long time, 8 years for Gail.
JoAnne showed me the clothing room, they accept donations and distribute a wide variety of clothing items from infant sizes to adult 4x and everything in between. She loves being able to help people and told me that they get a lot of families with young children and grandparents who are raising grandchildren who really appreciate the help. She was especially happy for a gentleman who came in this past month and found a suit coat that fit. He was very excited, he told her because now he had something to wear to his daughter’s wedding.
The pantry can always use donations of food or cash. Especially appreciated are peanut butter, jelly, tuna, soups, and toiletries. Items can be dropped off at the pantry or brought to St. Jerome Church the first weekend of each month. Other items that are especially needed are kitchen items and men’s clothing
They would also gratefully welcome new volunteers into the family. Whether you can give an hour a month or one day a week, it all helps. Call LeeAnn at 216-481-0794 for more details.
If you need help or know someone who does stop in any Monday or Wednesday between 11:30 and 2:30. First time clients will receive food regardless, returning clients must provide a State ID, proof of residence, and proof of the number of people in the household.
Parish Secretary/business manager at St. Jerome Church