Over the past several weeks, NEEDS volunteers have been getting ready to restock the pantry to meet the increased need that our clients experience during the colder months. To our excitement, several individuals and groups have recently stepped up to help by hosting food drives.
First up: Maggie Albers, who began volunteering with NEEDS this summer as part of her high school capstone project. Maggie’s “Do What You CAN” drive brought in two full carloads of food and personal care items for the pantry!
But Maggie wasn’t the only student eager to help. Inspired by WLWT’s Day of Giving, the Madeira High School Key Club hosted a food drive to benefit NEEDS – and when two more vehicles loaded with donations arrived at the pantry, it was clear that the drive had been a success!
Among NEEDS’ most faithful supporters are our member churches, including Church of the Saviour United Methodist. Recently, Church of the Saviour held a hugely successful food drive that benefited not only NEEDS but five other organizations. Thanks to this drive, NEEDS volunteers were able to fill several gaps on the pantry shelves with much-needed nonperishables.
Finally, NEEDS held a two-day food drive that attracted donors from 10 different churches and civic organizations. A big thank you to the volunteers who staffed this event, including Moeller High School senior Kyler Graves!
Recently, pantry volunteers received a handwritten card from one of our regular clients. “We very much thank you for your free food pantry donation to our family today,” she wrote. The client enclosed a single dollar bill and signed the card with the names of everyone in the family.
It turns out that whenever this client visits the pantry, she hands our volunteers a few dollar bills – the most she can offer. She had no money during her last visit, but still wanted to offer something for what she had received. The NEEDS pantry volunteers are always so touched by this client’s attitude – she may not have much, but she always does her best to give back!
NEEDS has had great success operating a drive-up pantry service for the last few months. All volunteers wear masks and take safety precautions in order to protect our clients. But what about clients who don’t have masks of their own? Luckily, NEEDS partner churches are here to help! Members of Kenwood Baptist Church (where NEEDS is based), as well as the Sewciables group from Sycamore Presbyterian Church, have provided an assortment of fabric masks to distribute to our clients. These masks come in a wide range of styles and sizes for children and adults. Thank you to KBC and the Sewciables for helping to keep our clients and their families safe!
NEEDS is also grateful to churches like Saint Vincent Ferrer, All Saints Catholic Church, and Blue Ash Presbyterian Church for their faithful support. All three have helped to keep the NEEDS pantry shelves stocked this summer. Recently, Blue Ash Presbyterian volunteers delivered a full cartload of food – arriving just in time to replenish our dwindling supply of canned meals. The donation also included many “extras” our clients usually have to do without – including coffee, tea, soda, salad dressing, and even hair conditioner. Thank you!
In keeping with the tradition of the last few years, All Saints Church and School held their annual Bob Meyer Memorial Food Drive for NEEDS and collected over 3000 non-perishable food items, personal hygiene and household cleaning supplies. The collection was held October 7-13, 2019 and students who participated earned community service/confirmation hours. The items were delivered to the NEEDS pantry on October 14, 2019.
Seventh grade students, teachers, parents and NEEDS volunteers helped carry items into the pantry and sort them.
The collection is held each year in memory of Bob Meyer who took a special interest in this project by distributing signs, collecting, organizing and delivering the items collected. He died in 2017.
The shelves at NEEDS run low this time of year and we are all extremely grateful for this wonderful outpouring of love.
If you would like to organize a collection drive for NEEDS, please email us via our Contact Us page. We appreciate it!
I worked the NEEDS front desk for many years. Each church represented on the Board was responsible for finding volunteers from their church, helping with pantry duties, and filling the pantry with fresh items. It was my church’s turn and I was serving as a pantry volunteer.
A wonderful young man came in. He had walked from the bus stop a few blocks away and he needed food. My fellow-volunteer knew that we could not give him all the food he needed because there was no way he could carry all the food with him onto the bus.
We took a gamble. She had a cell phone which she gave me and I kept it on while I walked the man and his boxes and bags of food to my car to drive him home. She called her cell phone from the NEEDS phone line and kept the line open in case I was a fool and needed help!
Would you do this today? Probably not.
This young man turned out to be a wonderful husband and father. He eventually became a friend too!
Sometimes trusting and taking a gamble (with a helpful cell phone) is what NEEDS volunteers do!
We had an elderly gentleman come to the food pantry for the first time. He was nicely dressed, so nicely dressed, in fact, I thought he had come to the food pantry to donate food rather than because he needed help.
He was very proud that he had never needed this kind of help before, but an emergency had happened and his family needed help. We registered him and packed the food for his family.
When he saw all the food being wheeled out on the cart for him, you could see the tears welling up in his eyes. It was all he could do to keep the tears under control. He was EXTREMELY grateful!
NEEDS food pantry is open Tuesday and Thursdays from 9 am- 1 pm at the lower level of Kenwood Baptist Church, 8341 Kenwood Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45236.
Many years ago we helped a family. The mom and dad worked full time and their grandchildren needed special care. Finances were tight, so NEEDS helped with food and emergency financial assistance.
The mom said when she retired she would pay it back by volunteering at the NEEDS pantry and she kept that promise! A week after retirement she was trained as a Desk Volunteer and worked this position for over 10 years. Her husband had health issues that needed her so she had to end her commitment to volunteer at NEEDS.
Her children are fine and her grandchildren have grown to be wonderful people.
As Mother Teresa said. “ Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you”— and NEEDS did this.
Husband, father, grandfather, veteran, golfer, longtime Kroger employee and volunteer – these all describe Kenton Gast.
Born August 15, 1926 in Logansport IN, Kenton had one brother and a sister Karen, who still lives in Bloomington IN. He joined the Naval Air corps and served in the South Pacific during the last two years of World War II on the USS Shangri-La, but says he “never saw any action.”
On June 7, 1953, Ken married Betty Paulin and they began
their 66 year marriage. The couple went on to have five children: Charlie (who
lives in Mason), Andy (Leesburg, OH), Mike (Greenhills) and Tony
(Finneytown). They lost a daughter to
cancer a few years ago.
Kenton (or Ken, as most of us know him) started with Kroger in a six month manager trainee program. He went on to become Assistant Manager in Indianapolis for 1 ½ years. Still in Indianapolis he became Produce Trainer and then Produce Buyer, then Assistant Grocery Merchandiser. In 1965 he came to Cincinnati as Vice President of Manufacturing Procurement where he retired after a 32 year career.
Kenton and his wife Betty have lived in Kenwood for 50 years. During that time he served as a deacon at
Trinity United Church of Christ and in the early ‘80’s he began volunteering at
NEEDS where he has served as vice president and as Director of Pantry Operations
and Volunteers, and Director of Desk Operations.
He remembers that at that time Sycamore Jr. high school was
the biggest donor to NEEDS followed by Greenhills schools. He remembers that what was left over was
always given to the Freestore Food Bank in Cincinnati. When asked what he sees
as the biggest change in NEEDS he says the number of clients we serve.
As far as hobbies, Kenton always enjoyed playing golf. Now his 11 grandchildren take up has spare
When asked what he would like to be remember for, Kent replies with no hesitation ”being kind to others.”
Ken, you’ve got your wish.
Thank you for your long years of service to NEEDS and the families of Cincinnati.