The local community is helping to provide Thanksgiving meals for 180 families, including 320 children, through Gahanna Residents In Need.

Brenda Johnston, the organization's executive director, said the number of families served has grown from 107 last year to 180 families.

"They will be given Thanksgiving boxes of nonperishable items, a gift card for perishable items, knitwear, books and pajamas," she said.

The Thanksgiving boxes were to be assembled Nov. 17 at Stonybrook United Methodist Church and distributed to families on Nov. 18.

"Once again, the Gahanna community has come together to provide a wonderful holiday 'basket' for needy families," said Cid Canter, president of the GRIN board. "So many groups have stepped up by donating food and pajamas; a knitting group making 13 large boxes of scarves and hats; book donations; and hundreds of volunteer hours to organize the event, pack 180 boxes of food and then, pass the boxes out."

Canter said GRIN affiliates look forward to the Thanksgiving distribution event each year.

"We will start planning for 2018's event in January," she said. "Thanks to everyone that makes this event so successful."

Instead of having families be adopted for Christmas this year, Johnston said, toys can be chosen by parents of the families in need.

On Dec. 16, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Stonybrook, the same families that registered for the Thanksgiving boxes and have children will be given the opportunity to shop for toys.

In order to be eligible, families were required to complete an interview in early November and demonstrate residency in Gahanna.

Johnston said toys will be assigned point values and each family will be given a certain number of points based on its size. Family members will be able to choose the toys they want.

"We are hoping that each family will either receive a red wagon or a bicycle, in addition to the other toys they can choose," Johnston said.

She said Wagons Ho Ho Ho of Grove City is donating 50 red wagons for families and Gahanna's Bicycle Trails Advisory Committee is donating used bicycles.

"We have also asked the community to donate bikes for all ages for the families, as we have 320 children," Johnston said.

Since GRIN moved into its new home at 165 Granville St. in October, clients have been asked to schedule dates for visiting the pantry.

Pantry visits are offered every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon; the first and third Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. and the first and third Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m.

GRIN provides thousands of meals annually to residents in need within the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla