Residents wanting help through Gahanna Residents In Need's holiday assistance program must register by Friday, Nov. 8, for Thanksgiving items and by Dec. 1 for Christmas meals.

Beth Bentley, the program director for GRIN, said all families must register in advance either online at grin4gahanna.org or with paper applications.

Applications are available during pantry hours, and photo identification and proof of residency in the Gahanna-Jefferson School District are required.

Food pantry hours are 10 a.m. to noon Wednesdays, 6 to 8 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of the month and 9 to 11 a.m. on the first and third Saturday at 165 Granville St. in Gahanna. An appointment is required.

Bentley said GRIN will provide a box for Thanksgiving that includes side dishes, fresh white and sweet potatoes and fresh apples.

A gift card will be provided for the family to purchase meat and dairy of choice, she said.

Food quantities and the gift card amount will be determined by family size.

Bentley said the Thanksgiving distribution will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 23 at the Gahanna Senior Center. 480 Rocky Fork Blvd.

For Christmas, Bentley said, GRIN will provide a box that includes side dishes, fresh potatoes and fresh oranges.

A frozen ham or turkey, chosen in advance by the family, also will be provided.

The Christmas distribution will be from noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 15 at a location to be determined.

In 2018, Bentley said, GRIN provided Thanksgiving meals for 269 families.

She said that represented 583 individuals and 1,166 meals, with each family receiving enough for at least two meals.

This was in addition to the monthly food provided through the pantry, according to Bentley.

In 2018, she said, GRIN's Christmas program was different.

"We provided supplemental food for families that shopped through the pantry (653 individuals)," Bentley said. "We also had a toy giveaway in 2018, which we have turned over to the Gahanna Gift Shop. This is allowing GRIN to focus on providing a complete Christmas meal in addition to the food regularly provided through our pantry."

The Gahanna Gift Shop is a one-day program, held by several schools and staged by several churches and organizations, to help families provide toys for their children, according to gahannagiftshop.com.

Brenda Johnston, executive director of GRIN, said she and Bentley are interviewing clients this month to see what other needs they have.

"Each client is experiencing their own kind of 'drama' in their lives, from losing loved ones, to mental and medical illnesses, to vehicles breaking down," she said. "Our clients do not have the extra income to 'plan' for life circumstances and they do not have 'nest eggs,' so when something happens out of the norm for them, it devastates the family life."

Johnston said such clients have to take away money from a bill to handle the crisis.

"I feel blessed to be able to help the families in need by providing food, prayer, clothing and financial assistance," she said.

"The holidays are another hardship for families, as they try to provide a family dinner for Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as toys for smaller children. Interacting with clients, praying for them and helping them to see light at the end of the tunnel by providing food, clothing and holiday assistance is a way we all can help," she said.

Bentley said the community's help is much needed and always appreciated.

She said GRIN is collecting cranberries, pumpkin, stuffing, gravy, macaroni and cheese, green beans, corn, marshmallows, cookie mix, and sweetened-condensed and evaporated milk.

GRIN also is collecting grocery-store gift cards in $10 and $15 increments, Bentley said.

Johnston said "Giving Tuesday," also known as #GivingTuesday, is held annually the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is important to GRIN. It is Dec. 3 this year.

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving fueled by social media and collaboration, inspiring millions of people to give back to causes that are important to them.

For more information, go to givingtuesday.org/about.

To contact GRIN, call 614-214-4747 or send an email to grin@grin4gahanna.org.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla