Reynoldsburg's Helping Hands Food Pantry needs some helping hands.

Director Janet Munjas said she "desperately needs volunteers" to keep the food pantry operating during its current hours.

"I have had a few people leave due to retirement, illness or family issues, so we really need some volunteers to help us with buying food and other things, plus part-time volunteers and substitutes to take over when someone is on vacation," she said.

The food pantry at 7356 E. Main St. is open from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

"If I could get enough volunteers, we could be open on Mondays again," Munjas said.

She said a part-time volunteer could take over shopping duties at Aldi's, which is where the pantry gets milk, eggs and other perishable foods.

"If I could get even one person in charge of checking the inventory for meat products, like bologna and hot dogs and frozen dinners, then buying whatever we need at Aldi's, it would be a big help," she said.

The food pantry serves only families who live in the Reynoldsburg school district. Shelves are stocked by community donations and supplemented by trips to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

Volunteers also work personally with the families the pantry serves to make sure they get everything they need, Munjas said.

"We do not rely on a downtown agency to make our appointments," she said. "Our volunteers want to talk to the people we are serving, which is fine with me. We want that personal contact with people and families."

She said food donations are always needed, but must be dropped off when the food pantry is open.

"We really need hearty food for cold days, like canned beef stew, chili and the heartier and chunky soups, plus pancake mix, syrup and cereal," she said.

"Cereal is a staple for us, along with jelly and peanut butter and tuna fish."

Munjas said personal items are also needed, such as toothpaste and toothbrushes, deodorant, mouthwash, soap, paper products and shampoo.

"I feel bad for the teenage girls sometimes, because they like special things and want to pick out their shampoos -- they may have gotten used to certain ones -- so it would be nice to have several kinds," she said.

The pantry still serves more than 45 families per week by appointment, Munjas said.

She said people should check the expiration date on canned goods and other items they donate, since the pantry cannot accept items past their expiration date.

Healthy snacks for children are also needed.

Munjas was a teacher in Reynoldsburg for more than 40 years and works with the school district to take "weekend snacks" to three elementary schools to make sure children who qualify for free lunch at school have enough food over the weekend.

People needing help should call 614-868-9394 and leave their name and phone number, along with the number of adults and children in their household. Volunteers will then call them back to make an appointment for a family member to come in and discuss how the pantry can help, Munjas said.

Anyone wanting to volunteer should also call that number.

People who want to donate money to buy food should send checks payable to Reynoldsburg Helping Hands, P.O. Box 1521, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, 43068.

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