The Reynoldsburg Helping Hands food pantry desperately needs donations of food and checks or cash to help local needy families for Thanksgiving and the holiday season.
"We need everything," pantry director Janet Munjas said. "Our supplies are so low, and people are depending on us for the holidays."
The pantry is located at 7356 E. Main St.
Members of Reynoldsburg American Legion Post 798 collected food for Helping Hands during their annual poppy sale, held Nov. 11 in honor of Veterans Day. They were set up in the parking lot of the True Value hardware store on Main Street.
"We collected a few bags of food, but much more is needed," Post Commander Timothy Dunn said.
Dunn said proceeds from the annual poppy sale support local aid for veterans' families, along with the Toys for Tots holiday drive.
"We also provide access to boys for Boys State and always try to have a food drive during our poppy sale for Helping Hands," he said.
The collection was lean this year, though, with the Legion making taking in only $82 from the poppy sale, according to Dunn.
He said people who want to contribute to any of the American Legion's holiday efforts or Boys State should email him at Tdunn1@wowway.com.
Munjas said the Reynoldsburg Helping Hands food pantry is strictly a local effort and serves only residents in the Reynoldsburg school district.
People may drop off canned food and nonperishable foods during the food pantry hours, which are 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Specific needs are cereal, spaghetti noodles, spaghetti sauce, macaroni and cheese, Jello and pudding, canned soups, chili, beef stew and vegetables, such as corn, peas and mixed vegetables; peanut butter, jelly and canned fruits.
"We ask that people check the expiration date on the items -- we don't want outdated items," she said. "We need the food items desperately, though; we are getting to rock bottom. We serve a lot of people during the holidays."
Money is also needed, since the food pantry tries to give out $20 Kroger gift cards to needy families.
Checks made out to Reynoldsburg Helping Hands may be sent to P.O. Box 1521, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068.
Munjas said families who need assistance should call Helping Hands at 614-868-9394.
"They should leave their name and phone number and the number of adults and children in their household," she said. "We call people back and then make an appointment for them to come in so that we can help."
The number of people the food pantry serves has grown over the years, she said, and the need for emergency food is especially urgent during the holiday season.
"We are really an emergency place. We are not something families can depend on week after week," she said. "They should apply for food stamps and other assistance for need on an ongoing basis."
Munjas, who has been in charge of Helping Hands for the past five years, was a teacher in the Reynoldsburg school district for 41 years. She taught first at the former Graham Road Elementary, then at Rose Hill Elementary.
She said the food pantry was opened in 1958 by a school nurse and a police dispatcher, Betty Bartlett and Mary Francis.
"The food pantry has been around for a long time, but back in those days, there were so few people that they were able to help with utilities and emergency medicine," Munjas said.