Garrettsville – It was cold, damp and grey outside Garrettsville’s IGA grocery store on Saturday morning, October 20. But Joe Leonard’s bright red antique firetruck with Santa on board drew curiosity seekers to the “Fill The Fire Truck Food Drive” and resulted in four truckfulls of food donations for the Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard.

Pictured above are Bernie Eatough, Jeremy Lind, James Dickey, Darlene Hoffman, Rich Hoffman, Terri Karpenko (Front), Dianna Medley (Front), Tracy Matta,(Front), Bill McDowell (Back), Jeff Barnes (Back), Michele Elias-(Back – Food Bank) and last but not least….Santa Claus.

Rich Hoffman, general manager of Sky Plaza IGA, kicked off the campaign by donating a pallet (1,440 cans) of canned vegetables to the food drive. “We are hometown proud, and have been for 25 years,” he said. “This is the best community there is, but everybody’s hurting for help this year.”
Then throughout the day, an estimated 90 percent of shoppers donated either food or funds to the effort, thanks to the attention-getting antics of youth from St. Ambrose Catholic Church.
“I just want to say that we were totally overwhelmed with the response and the public support we had on Saturday at IGA,” says Leonard, who serves both as Nelson Township Trustee and as board member of the food cupboard.

“This fundraiser was definitely desperately needed to help the NGCC survive and to enable us to continue helping many families in our communities. It is very gratifying when we see the relief that some of the people feel after receiving help from the food cupboard, knowing that it has helped them to continue to feed their families.”

As a member agency of the Akron-Canton Food Bank, the Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard was formed last February by Leonard, Dan Dolan, Michael and Michele Elias, and Pastor Rick Hughes of the Nelson United Methodist Church. In just 34 weeks, the food cupboard (located behind Isaac Mills Bakery off Nelson Circle) has served 127 households, including 473 individuals.

The food cupboard is open 4-7pm on Mondays and 9am-noon on Wednesdays, serving on average, 20-25 families from the James A. Garfield School District every week.
Michele Elias says that the need is great due to current economic conditions. “People have lost their jobs or are underemployed. Oftentimes, they have ongoing medical issues, so that’s where the money goes.There’s simply not enough cash on hand for groceries.”

Elias says that she and her husband just recently became aware that their neighbors are counted among the hungry. “The more we investigated hunger in our area, the more we were convinced that something needed to be done. At some point you have to stop saying, ‘Someone should do something about that.’ Just jump and be the one to do it! We did and have not regretted it for a minute!”
If you would like to help “shut the door on hunger in our community” this holiday season, IGA will accept cash donations for NGCC at the register through November 30.