Many families in the Reynoldsburg area could use a little help over the holidays, according to directors of two local food pantries that are seeking donations of food and money.
Janet Munjas, director of the Reynoldsburg Helping Hands Food Pantry, which serves families who live within Reynoldsburg school district boundaries, said a little help could brighten the holidays for needy families.
Helping Hands opened in 1958. Munjas is a former Reynoldsburg teacher who taught in the district for 41 years.
"As you might expect, we really need food right now," she said. "We need all types of holiday food, like instant mashed potatoes, stuffing mix, canned fruit, gravy, desserts and vegetables."
Helping Hands serves 300 to 400 Reynoldsburg families each holiday season, Munjas said.
She said nonperishable food items can be brought to the pantry at 7356 E. Main St. in Reynoldsburg between 10 a.m. and noon on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Donations in the form of checks or money orders are also welcome and may be dropped off at the pantry or mailed to Reynoldsburg Helping Hands, P.O. Box 1521, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, 43068.
"We are giving our clients a gift card from Kroger for a turkey or ham for the holidays," Munjas said.
Other needs are cereal, soups, canned pasta, pancake mix and syrup, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti sauce, Jell-O and pudding, as well as personal products such as toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and toothbrushes and deodorant.
Munjas said the only thing a needy family must provide in order to receive help is a utility bill to prove they live in the Reynoldsburg school district.
People who need help may call 614-868-9394 and leave their name and phone number, along with the number of adults and children in their household.
Munjas said volunteers will call back and make an appointment for a family member to come in and discuss how the pantry can help. They set up a time to pick up groceries from the pantry.
The HEART Food Pantry serves people who live south of Havens Corners Road, west of Taylor Road, east of Hamilton Road and north of Route 70.
Of the 50,000 people who live in the HEART service area, 15,000 to 20,000 have incomes that place them at the federal poverty level, said the Rev. Carl Hanf, pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church and board president at HEART.
The pantry, a member of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, is at 6475 E. Main St., Suite 126, in Reynoldsburg. It has served the community for the past five years.
Hanf said people could shop for the pantry while they do their holiday shopping.
"The nice thing about the holidays is that people are in the grocery stores a lot, so they could shop for some extra items and bring a bag of groceries over to the food pantry," he said. "That way, we could give more variety to clients."
"We always need a variety of vegetables, and need things like peanut butter and tuna fish and other canned goods," he said. "But a lot of times, people will find frozen turkeys go on sale.
"I bought one turkey to bring home and one for the food pantry," he said.
He said the HEART food pantry can accommodate frozen items such as turkeys.
"Being aware of your neighbor when you go out shopping could really help," he said.
He said money donations also are accepted. Online contributions may be made at the pantry's website, www.heartfoodpantry.org.
"We feed more than 1,000 people a month," Hanf said. "We can always use a money donation to help buy food."
At holiday time, he said the number of people seeking assistance increases to at least 1,100 -- or 360 families.
The pantry is open by appointment on Wednesday afternoons, Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Those who need help should call 614-600-6065 and leave a message to get a call back.
People who want to donate food may bring items to the pantry from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday; 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday; 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.