Local businessman Matt Jehn has once again stepped up to the Thanksgiving plate.

Local businessman Matt Jehn has once again stepped up to the Thanksgiving plate.

Jehn and an anonymous donor this year shared the cost of turkeys and groceries for Thanksgiving meals for nearly 175 needy Worthington families.

This is the second year that Jehn has paid for the Thanksgiving meals for clients of the Worthington Food Pantry and Resource Center.

On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the families picked up their food at the pantry, which is located at the former Harding Hospital, 445 E. Granville Road.

As cars pulled up, Jehn, his children and a few volunteers loaded them up with bags of groceries.

Besides the birds, each family received a 5-pound bag of potatoes, stuffing mix, cranberries, canned vegetables, canned sweet potatoes, and, of course, a pumpkin pie.

Total cost of the food was about $4,600. Jehn paid for half, an unnamed benefactor for half.

Jehn said he does it because he can, because it is needed, and because it makes him happy.

"Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday," he said. "A family should be able to sit down and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal."

He also does it for his children, Avery, 5, and Braden, 7. Both carried bags of groceries and helped to load cars this year.

"I want my kids to be involved so they will have a passion for helping others when they're older," Jehn said.

Jehn, a Colonial Hills resident, is an independent financial adviser with Royal Oak Financial Group in Worthington.

He would like other businesses to step up and help with the program in coming years.

"Each year we could have multiple businesses committed to this," he said.

Approximately 170 families received vouchers for the free Thanksgiving dinners during their trips to the food pantry over the past three weeks.

The pantry provides food and other assistance to needy residents of the Worthington school district.

Last month, 305 families - 1,002 individuals - were served and 14,229 lbs. of food and personal items distributed.

The pantry is a community-based volunteer organization. It depends on donations of food and money from local organizations and individuals.

Set up in the kitchen area of the former Harding Hospital, the pantry keeps rooms of grocery shelves filled with food. When clients come in, they "shop" from the shelves and are permitted an allotment of each type of food and personal items.

The panty and resource center are open Mondays 9-11 a.m.; Wednesdays, 4-6 p.m.; and Saturdays, 1-3 p.m.

Demand has increased since last year, and the pantry recently rented additional space in the building. Giant Eagle installed additional shelves, and the Dublin-Worthington Rotary Club supplied a new freezer for food storage.

Other recent large donations came from Danielle Rice, a local chiropractor, who gave more than 1,000 pounds of food, and Worthington's two high schools, which donated and delivered more than 5,000 pounds.

The children of Evening Street School also donated several large boxes of children's books. The books are given to families and read in the pantry's waiting area.

Besides food, the resource center offers a wide range of services to people needing help.

Volunteers are available to direct clients to the Ohio Benefit Bank Services and other assistance programs. Among benefits available are help paying for utilities, child care, and insurance.

The Worthington Libraries staff also reads to children at the center on Wednesdays and helps clients looking for jobs. They help do job searches, write resumes and set up email accounts, among other services.

More than 80 people took advantage of the resource center services in October.

"We've got to look at ways of helping people get out of the cycle they are in," said Sandra Byers, one of the founders of the food pantry and resource center.

Anyone wanting to volunteer, donate or set up food drives can contact the pantry and resource center at 985-1766; post office box 27, Worthington, 43085; or worthingtonfoodpantry@gmail.com.

To schedule a pantry appointment, contact Hands On (First Link) at 341-2282.