Neighborhood Bridges will place personal-care pantries in each of the three middle schools in the Gahanna-Jefferson School District, and will donate personal-care items to the Lions Locker at Gahanna Lincoln High School.

Ron Smith, area director of Neighborhood Bridges in Gahanna, on Aug. 28 said the community’s donations of personal-care items at the annual Creekside Blues and Jazz Festival in June has made it possible to help more than 500 students.

Rick Bannister, CEO and founder of Neighborhood Bridges, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization launched in January 2017, said personal-care pantries will be available in 54 schools in Gahanna, Westerville, Worthington, Dublin and Hilliard.

The pantries include deodorant, soap, body wash, shampoo, tooth brushes, tooth paste, feminine-hygiene products, belts, combs and brushes.

“We were absolutely thrilled at the outpouring of support in our community of Gahanna, to help our students,” Smith said. “This is going to help us meet a real need at our schools.”

On the morning of June 16, free admission to the music festival was given to anyone who brought a personal-care item.

“We were happy to partner with Neighborhood Bridges to help a need that we have in our district,” said Steve Barrett, school district superintendent. “These pantries will be put in place this fall to help our students in need.”

Smith said Neighborhood Bridges helps meet needs of students and families through an advocacy-based model of kindness, and the organization is happy to partner in assisting the local schools.

Since its start in January 2017, Neighborhood Bridges has completed 18,200 Acts of Kindness, helping 103,000 students and 15,471 families in 13 communities around central Ohio, Smith said.

“Gahanna leads the way, and is the No. 1 community in central Ohio for Neighborhood Bridges, in donations (material items), financial donations and support for our residents, in all of 2018, and so far in 2019,” he said. “Gahanna loves kindness and it shows.”

To learn more about the organization or to subscribe for alerts on needs in Gahanna, go to or contact Smith at