The Pickerington PCMA Food Pantry is kicking off its major fundraising campaign called "The Festival of Lights."

The Pickerington PCMA Food Pantry is kicking off its major fundraising campaign called "The Festival of Lights."

This year's theme is "One Light, One Hope." It is the ninth year the pantry has held the fundraiser. Each holiday lighting bulb that will be used to decorate the pantry's facility at 70 Cross St. in Olde Pickerington Village represents one $5 gift.

PCMA Food Pantry Director of Community Relations Barbara Meek said the purchase of one light bulb can go a very long way toward feeding those in need.

"Five dollars equals two meals per person," said Meek. "We work hard to give balanced, healthy meals to our clients for very little money. When you give to us we make it count."

She said in 2016 the PCMA Food Pantry provided over 166,623 meals to its clients, all of whom reside in the Pickerington Local School District.

The Festival of Lights will run from Nov. 15 through Jan. 15. It also serves as a fundraiser to help the pantry "keep the lights on" and to purchase food staples that are unable to be donated, Meek said.

"A third of our budget comes from this fundraiser," she said.

"Not only does one light feed a person in need of food, it helps pay (our) rent.

"Donations for this fundraiser are vital to what we are able to provide and do for our clients," Meek said.

The official lighting ceremony will take place at the PCMA Food Pantry at 6 p.m. Dec. 2 as part of the Olde Pickerington Holiday Gathering. Tours of the pantry will be given and hot chocolate will also be served. The open house will run to 8 p.m.

Meek said last year organizers raised $55,000 for the pantry through what was formerly called "The Plaza of Lights."

Construction on the new Violet Township Fire Station 591 in Olde Pickerington Village necessitated moving the event from the plaza next to the former Carnegie Library building (now home to the Pickerington-Violet Township Historical Society) to the pantry's Cross Street site.

"I would like to see us raise $65,000 to $70,000 this year," Meek said.

"It will help us get through August and September. It would really alleviate some of that pressure in wondering how we can pay the bills."

She said the Violet Township firefighters will once again be in charge of decorating the pantry, and setting the lights to music for "The Festival of Lights."

"They're so excited," she said. "They can't wait to get out and get started."

The PCMA Food Pantry currently serves 200 families and 650 individuals, including 34 veterans and 17 active-reserve families, Meek said.

"The biggest growth in poverty is happening in our suburbs throughout the country," she said.

"People want better schools, a better lifestyle, but when they lose that job, or have health problems or families split, these are the problems we are seeing," Meek said.

For every $1 donated, the pantry can purchase $10 worth of groceries.

Monetary donations are always appreciated and can be made in a variety of manners including:

* By mailing a check to the: PCMA Food Pantry, P.O. Box 914, Pickerington, Ohio, 43147.

* By using the PayPal service and visiting the pantry website: pcmafoodpantry.com;

* By dropping off cash or checks during donation drop off hours, which are the same are the same as client shopping hours.

Those who are dropping off food donations are asked to use the door in the alley instead of using the front door.

Donation hours are:

* Mondays: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

* Thursdays: 10 a.m. to noon.

* Saturdays: 10 a.m. to noon.

For more information about the Festival of Lights or the PCMA Food Pantry program, go to pcmafoodpantry.com; or call Meek at 614-834-0079.

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