While many nonprofits seek donations of toys, food and clothing during the holiday season, the Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio has put out the call for another critical need: medicine.

While many nonprofits seek donations of toys, food and clothing during the holiday season, the Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio has put out the call for another critical need: medicine.

The German Village-based pharmacy continues its mission of putting low-income residents in touch with free prescription medication.

"I think it's absolutely lifesaving," said Melanie Boyd, development director of the Charitable Pharmacy.

"I think we're in the business of making sure (patients) are at their most productive and healthy selves," Boyd said.

"I think what stands in the way of that for people is access to necessary medicine -- and for more people than you think, the choice between food on the table and medicine is a real daily choice."

The Charitable Pharmacy is located in, but not part of the Livingston United Methodist Church, 200 E. Livingston Ave.

Ohio law prohibits the pharmacy from accepting unused prescription medication from the general public.

Inventory includes generic medications that have been purchased and donated from pharmacies that service long-term care facilities; brand medicines donated by physicians or drug manufacturers; and drug manufacturers' bulk-replenishment medications, Boyd said.

Otherwise, the pharmacy purchases medicine with community donations, she said.

For every $1 donated, the Charitable Pharmacy can purchase $8 worth of medication, Boyd said.

The city, state, individuals and businesses all have been generous throughout the history of the pharmacy, which celebrates its fifth anniversary in February, Boyd said.

All Franklin County residents are qualified for the service, providing they live at or below 200 percent of the poverty line.

In 2014, that means an income of $23,300 for individuals and $47,700 for a family of four, Boyd said.

Every year, patients must requalify if their conditions don't change.

The Charitable Pharmacy serves about 600 patients per month at the German Village location, and another 300 at the Lower Lights Christian Health Center on the Hilltop.

The average patient is on six to eight medications per day, which would otherwise cost $5,000 to $7,500 per year, said Allan Zaenger, executive director of the Charitable Pharmacy.

On a related note, the pharmacy also is seeking hospitality volunteers who discuss medications with patients, take blood pressure and conduct blood screenings for diabetes. Flu shots also are administered at the facility.

Zaenger said the personal contact puts patients at ease and, in the long run, could improve their quality of life and keep them out of the hospital.

"I think patients benefit from people who actually greet them and show them down the hall," Zaenger said.

Donations can be made at charitablepharmacy.org or at the facility Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Zaenger said the generosity of the community has been impressive.

"It's truly an amazing thing to watch," he said.