The PCMA Food Pantry of Pickerington is stepping up its participation in this year's Labor Day parade in hopes of spurring more help for local families.

The PCMA Food Pantry of Pickerington is stepping up its participation in this year's Labor Day parade in hopes of spurring more help for local families.

According to food pantry director Dianna Kassouf, it's always a challenge to generate ample food and cash donations to ensure those in need locally have enough to eat.

That effort has been significantly strained in recent years by the prolonged economic slump lingering in Ohio and throughout much of the nation.

So in the face of the mounting challenge, Kassouf and a fledgling army of volunteers will take to the streets during the Pickerington Lions Club Labor Day parade Sept. 5 to try to bolster the food pantry's dwindling reserves.

"We've been in the parade the last two years, but just with an antique truck and two people riding," Kassouf said. "This year, we're going to have a number of volunteers wearing T-shirts and walking in the parade."

They will be pushing shopping carts and carrying buckets to accept what they hope will be a multitude of nonperishable food items and cash donations.

All donations will go to individuals and families living in the Pickerington Local School District who are struggling to keep food on their tables and in their own pantries.

"Any donations received are much needed and will be greatly appreciated, as the need among Pickerington Local School District residents continues to grow," Kassouf said. "This year, January through July, we have seen a 22-percent increase compared to the same time period last year.

"The pantry has provided 51,456 meals this year, January through July."

The PCMA Food Pantry is taking a page from the Westerville Area Resource Ministry, which has collected food and cash donations in recent years during Westerville's Fourth of July parade.

Kassouf hopes those coming out for the Labor Day parade will bring any nonperishable food items they can spare, or cash or checks made out to the PCMA Food Pantry of Pickerington.

She noted the pantry's website, www.pcmafoodpantry.com, has a list of items of particular need.

Those who wish to contribute but don't want to bring items to the parade also can donate on the pantry's website, which currently can accept Paypal payments.

"Last week, we put up a 'donate' button for Paypal," Kassouf said. "If they don't have a Paypal account, they can use a debit or credit card. It's a secure site."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

www.ThisWeekNews.com