Nearly devastated by flooding, Reynoldsburg Helping Hands is reopening at a larger location.

The food pantry, which dates to 1958, shut down after floodwaters March 20 damaged its home at 7356 E. Main St.

"We were told up to 8 inches of water had come up the walls. It got in the refrigerators; it got onto our shelves. It was damaged beyond hope," said Janet Munjas, pantry director, who added the pantry had been at the location since 1992.

As volunteers from the Reynoldsburg-Pickerington Rotary scrambled to store the food that could be salvaged, Munjas started looking for a new location.

Helping Hands was scheduled to reopen April 21 in a former doctor's office at 7453 E. Main St.

"We were only closed for a month," Munjas said. "Everything has turned into a positive in a short amount of time."

The pantry serves families in need in the 43068 ZIP code by appointment only, from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Appointments can be made by calling 614-868-9394.

Donations of canned and nonperishable food and items such as cereal, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, macaroni and cheese, gelatin and pudding, canned soups, chili, beef stew, peanut butter and personal-care items are also accepted during the pantry's open hours.

Volunteers always are needed, Munjas said.

"We're still a small pantry, but we distribute enough food for between 5,000 to 6,000 meals a month," Munjas said.

On a typical shift, volunteers help package food for more than a dozen families, with items from every food group and "milk, eggs and bread that are fresh," she said. "We're looking into adding more fresh foods. We will be able to finally store some food -- we've never had room for that before and now we do."

Several community organizations have helped, Munjas said.

The WCAP (We Care About People) Bingo Hall on Brice Road donated a "truckload of food," and the Reynoldsburg Visitors Bureau organized a drive-thru food drive on Helping Hands' parking lot April 18 to celebrate the pantry's reopening.

"The people of Reynoldsburg have been wonderful," said Munjas, who taught in Reynoldsburg City Schools for more than 40 years. "I still can't believe it. I knew over my years of teaching that I had made some wonderful friends in the community, but I didn't know how much I could count on those people until now. They've come through for this pantry."

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