NORTH ROYALTON – Halloween, Thanksgiving, even Christmas decorations have begun to creep up in area stores. Many of us will spend a significant amount of cash getting into the holiday spirit.
But, the best way to spread holiday cheer is to donate some of those dollars to fellow North Royalton neighbors in need during the holidays, Judy Willey, director of the office on aging, said.
Thanksgiving and Christmas seem far away but are just around the corner. The North Royalton Food Bank, a collaboration between the office on aging and the North Royalton Kiwanis, have already begun preparations to feed the hundreds of residents who are expected to sign up for the food bank’s Holiday Food Box Program this season beginning Oct. 7.
“One of the ways we can show our holiday spirit is to think of others who are in need in our own community. Our Holiday Food Box Program begins on Oct. 7 when we start to take applications from those who need extra help with food during the holidays,” she said. “One group in particular that we serve is the seniors. If they are on food stamps, they only receive $16-$18 per month and can only buy food with this money.”
Unfortunately for many of these seniors living on a fixed income, and even some making the difficult choice between groceries and medication, other essentials like toilet paper, laundry detergent and hygiene products cannot be purchased with the food stamps.
The need is substantial in North Royalton.
Last year, the program assisted 255 adults and children with Thanksgiving food boxes and 390 for Christmas. Many more need assistance, but never reach out for help.
“If we review other statistical data taken from the Center for Urban Poverty of the School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve, we learn that in North Royalton we have over 1,500 city residents on food assistance,” Willey said.
But residents can lend a hand by donating food, cash or checks to this vital program.
Each family who applies for the program receives at least one food box packed with one or more of the following: instant mashed potatoes; canned sweet potatoes; boxed stuffing mix; canned pasta sauce; canned pasta; canned corn, green beans and another vegetable; canned soup; canned gravy; canned fruit; canned pie filling; canned cranberry sauce; gelatin or pudding; peanut butter; jelly; boxed pasta; boxed macaroni and cheese; canned tuna; muffin, cornbread or biscuit mix; cookie or cake mix; canned or boxed dinner; and cereal. Aside from food, laundry detergent, toilet paper, shampoo and infant diapers are also needed and included in some of the boxes.
Besides the box of nonperishable food items, the food bank tries to give each family a $15 food card to purchase perishable items.
Turkey and ham donations are greatly appreciated so that families can complete their meals and have a true holiday dinner. However, the food bank does not have the space to accommodate these items. Residents who wish to provide turkeys or hams for families can do so by donating gift cards or cash or checks.
The Thanksgiving food box distribution is Nov. 23 and the Christmas distribution is Dec. 21, so items will be accepted throughout this month, October, November and December.
Residents are free to begin donating now and can do so by calling the office on aging for specific drop off times and locations.
Willey assures that everything given stays within the community as those who sign up must show a proof of residency and meet certain income eligibility to qualify.
Now’s as good a time as any to begin those donations, which residents always step up and do, Willey said.
“North Royalton residents have always been generous to their neighbors and we thank them for their support and kindness towards others,” she said.
Mayor Bob Stefanik agreed and said North Royalton residents always pull together to take care of their own no matter what the need or the season.
“You can tell by the weather that the holidays are around the corner,” he said. “We know we can always count on our community to help those in need, not only around the holiday but all year round.”
Checks can be made payable to the Charitable Trust of Kiwanis – Food Bank of North Royalton and mailed to the North Royalton Office on Aging, 13500 Ridge Road, North Royalton, OH, 44133.