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Mark and Virgie Hunter: A Labor of Love

Mediaon May 1st, 2017Comments Off on Mark and Virgie Hunter: A Labor of Love

Mark and Virgie Hunter: A Labor of LoveMark Hunter is hunched over a laptop in his office in a compact, single-story building in Portsmouth, Ohio.  Books and papers are stacked around him. He glances away from his computer and a smile lights up his face as he clears a spot for me on the chair next to him.  “I am writing a proposal,” he tells me as I settle into the chair. “It will help deliver food to even more kids.” I smile back at him.  I am used to Mark’s enthusiasm as well as his generosity.

Mark and Virgie Hunter embarked upon their mission to combat childhood hunger many years ago under the most horrific circumstances. In 2006, they tragically lost their son Steven at age 21 to a rare and undetected heart condition.  Steven had a passion for helping those who were less fortunate.  And Portsmouth unfortunately had a high poverty rate. So, at his funeral, in lieu of flowers, Mark and Virgie considered it fitting to ask for donations to help students at Steven’s high school with shoes, clothes and other basic needs. What started out as an attempt to assist a few neighborhood kids quickly gained momentum and led to the founding of the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund. In the first few years, the Hope Fund focused on purchasing shoes, clothes, coats and school supplies for high school students.

In 2009, Mark and Virgie came to the realization that they needed to do more.  It was obvious to them that many of the children in local schools struggled with hunger over the weekend.  Around the same time, Virgie heard about Freestore Foodbank’s Power Pack Program (packs of food that are sent home with kids on Friday so they can have something to eat over the weekend).  Mark and Virgie decided to make a trip to Cincinnati to meet with the Freestore Foodbank and explore options for distributing Power Packs in Scioto County.  “The Freestore Foodbank had a well-planned program in place with an efficient delivery mechanism. In addition, they were able to assure us that their Power Packs contained safe and nutritious food items purchased specifically for the program. Their tried and tested approach drew our attention and we immediately decided to partner with them,” Mark explains.

Mark and Virgie Hunter: A Labor of LoveIn January 2010, Mark and Virgie launched their partnership with the Freestore Foodbank by distributing Power Packs to 90 students in two elementary schools in Scioto County.  It did not take long for the community to rally behind their cause. Mark and Virgie continue to raise money for their efforts through fundraisers, walkathons and tennis tournaments.  They currently distribute 44,000 Power Packs in 18 schools in Scioto, Pike and Adams counties during the school year.  “Virgie and I couldn’t do this alone,” Mark remarks.  “We are so blessed to live in a community that wholeheartedly supports us.”

Beth Born is the Principal of Portsmouth Elementary School where 97% of the students qualify for the free lunch program. “The Power Pack program is a lifeline for our students,” she says. “The students look forward to taking them home on Friday. Most of them depend on their Power Pack to meet their basic need for food over the weekend.” Students who struggle with hunger often display symptoms such as low energy, short attention span and the inability to focus. “Many of our students do better academically and are more confident once they get in the program,” remarks Angela Byers-Johnson, third grade intervention specialist. There is currently a waiting list at Portsmouth Elementary to get in the program.

In addition to helping hundreds of kids, this unique endeavor has given the Hunters a purpose in life and a way to channel their grief towards something positive.  “Our work brings smiles into our lives amidst the tears. Being around kids, seeing their faces light up and knowing that we are able to make a difference – that makes all of this worth it.” Mark smiles wistfully as he turns back to his computer to hammer out yet another proposal to help hungry children in Ohio.

You can also be a partner in Freestore Foodbank’s fight against childhood hunger. To find out how, click here.

The Volunteer Connection May 2017

Mediaon April 28th, 2017Comments Off on The Volunteer Connection May 2017

Join Us for the 14th Annual Hunger Walk

Join Us for the 14th Annual Hunger Walk!

Lace up your gym shoes and help us put on the 14th Annual Hunger Walk & 5K Run on Monday, May 29 at the Sing the Queen City sign at The Banks! Volunteers are needed to help out with a variety of tasks. Signing up is easy! First create your profile and then register for an activity. There are volunteer activities during the entire holiday weekend. We hope to see you there


Volunteering at the Giving Fields

Volunteering at the Giving Fields

Preparations for the upcoming season are underway at the Giving Fields.  Don’t miss the opportunity to join us at the farm to plant or harvest fresh produce and help our hungry neighbors in Kentucky. The farm is located in Melbourne, KY, just 15 minutes from NKU.  This family friendly volunteer event has something for all ages. What a great way to learn how to grow fruits and veggies while helping to give back to the community.  Come on out and play in the dirt and make a difference at the same time!

Click here to register and to learn more.


Feeding Children during the Summer Months

Feeding Children during the Summer MonthsWe provide food boxes to children in rural communities to ensure they have meals during the summer months. We still have shifts available May through August at our Mayerson Distribution Center for groups of up to 40 members to help assemble these boxes. Check out Dates Here for availability then complete a Group Request Form to secure the date.


ONGOING VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP

thankyou_banner

Thank you to the following groups for your support April 2017!
We sincerely appreciate their continued support and contribution of their time.

Mayerson Distribution Center (Tennessee Avenue)

A Children’s Home
Bank of America/Merrill Lynch
Catalina Marketing
Crossroads Church Service Saturdays
GNO
Jack and Jill
Kerry Automotive
Mayerson Foundation
Miami University
Phi Kappa Tau (University of Cincinnati)
PNC Bank
Proctor and Gamble
Sam’s Club
St. Xavier School
Tri-State Freethinkers
University of Cincinnati (Student Nights)
Xavier University

Food Room (Liberty Street)

Fifth Third


FeedingWorks: Transformational Teambuilding

Looking for a new way to strengthen your team’s ability to communicate, problem-solve and manage conflict while improving your opportunities to provide successful outcomes? Looking for an opportunity to not only grow stronger as a team internally, but to make an external impact on the community? Consider FeedingWorks, the Freestore Foodbank’s social enterprise.

FeedingWorks is a unique combination of professional leadership development and the transformational experience of a team working together to make a tangible difference in the lives of others. Teams form genuine bonds through this experience which is based on the principle of giving back while developing yourself and your team.

For more information about how your company can benefit from FeedingWorks, please visit www.feedingworks.com.

Meet Our Neighbors Making A Difference: Les

Mediaon April 27th, 2017Comments Off on Meet Our Neighbors Making A Difference: Les

From left to right: Les Grooms and volunteer David England

Les Grooms might be 80 years old and well into his second career, but he has no intention of slowing down.

“I plan to go as long as I can. The blessing of helping others keeps me going.”

After thirty years with the school district, Les retired and became the pastor of the Augusta Presbyterian Church sixteen years ago. Over the past few years, Les and his congregation have started new programs in response to the need for food and fellowship in their community.

“We take the gospel to heart, feeding, clothing, and serving those in need. We have a coat drive and give away each winter. On the second Wednesday we have a Bread Basket Fellowship Meal where we grill out in the summer or serve a hot homemade meal in the winter. A member of the congregation had the idea to offer a soup supper every Monday to feed the elderly, children, and others. It’s a good place for hungry or lonely people to come for a conversation and a home cooked meal.”

The Augusta Presbyterian Church also hosts a holiday meals for the community and they partner with five other churches to offer a weekly food pantry.

“We started out with one table of canned goods, peanut butter, and spam serving about ten families a week. Now I order from Freestore Foodbank and pick up produce. We have about 75 families each week. They are so excited to get potatoes, oranges, bread, corn, and onions, things they can’t normally afford to buy.”

Les is able to pick up his order and fresh produce from Freestore Foodbank’s Wilder, Kentucky distribution center.

“Every Tuesday morning I bring one of the younger men from church to help pick up our order, well they’re all retired too, but they’re younger than me! The warehouse manager also helps load my SUV.”

“I would like to do more but our whole budget is only a few thousand dollars for the year. So we stretch it as far as we can, and get some donations from neighbors and organizations. But the Augusta Ministerial Food Pantry wouldn’t survive without the Freestore Foodbank.”

Les hopes to continue to expand their food pantry and increase the number of people they serve at their community meals. He also encourages members of his congregation to bring food from the meals and pantry to local shut-ins unable to attend.

“This is a labor of love. I think all of us who work on these meals get more in blessings than we are able to give in food. This is my last occupation and I get more pleasure out of this than anything.”

Support Henry Hosea House Through The Hunger Walk & 5K Run

Mediaon April 21st, 2017Comments Off on Support Henry Hosea House Through The Hunger Walk & 5K Run

 Many people live one paycheck away from financial disaster. An unexpected illness, injury, car repair, or life change can put a self-sufficient person at risk of hunger.

In their 26th year, the Henry Hosea House is working to address the need in Northern Kentucky. Located at 901 York Street in Newport, Kentucky, the soup kitchen served 45,000 hot meals in 2016.

“We are located in the heart of Newport, just a bit from both downtown Cincinnati and Covington,” said Henry Hosea House Interim Co-Director Steve Ader. “Being so close offers the local people in need a comfortable, safe place to enjoy their dinner. Just as important is the comradely among the guests and our staff. Just about every day, we meet a new person; offer a helping hand with some basic personal necessities and often a reassuring hug. Our clients are people, just like everyone else.”

You can help support Henry Hosea House’s efforts through the Freestore Foodbank’s 14th Annual Hunger Walk & 5K Run presented by Kraft Heinz. The event, taking place at 9:00 a.m. on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29 in downtown Cincinnati, helps support the Freestore Foodbank’s network of 350 community partner agencies located in 20 counties throughout Southwest Ohio, Southeast Indiana and Northern Kentucky. Partner agencies form teams and raise money through pledges of support from their community. Registration is $20 or $25 with a t-shirt.

“The best part about the Hunger Walk is that 100% of the contributions and pledges go towards our efforts to feed our hungry neighbors. This is such a fantastic opportunity for the Greater Cincinnati community to help all of the charities knowing that 100% of their money is providing nourishment for the men, women and children in our area.”

Henry Hosea House has a goal to raise $5,000 through Hunger Walk this year, the equivalent of 15,000 meals. To join the Henry Hosea House Hunger Walk team or to donate to its Hunger Walk efforts, call (513) 482-FOOD (3663) or click here. Online registration is open until 2:00 p.m. Friday, May 26.

All-Staff Spring 2017

Mediaon April 20th, 2017Comments Off on All-Staff Spring 2017

The Volunteer Connection April 2017

Mediaon March 31st, 2017Comments Off on The Volunteer Connection April 2017

Together, We Can Solve Hunger!

Together, We Can Solve Hunger!

In April, the Freestore Foodbank along with other agencies across the nation will celebrate National Volunteer Week, April 23-29, 2017.  During this week, we will honor those who inspire, recognize and encourage others to seek out imaginative ways to engage in our community.  National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change – discovering and demonstrating their collective power to make a difference.  We want to take this opportunity to thank all 10,850+ volunteers who are making a difference in our 20 counties that we serve and in the lives of our hungry neighbors.  We would not be able to make strides in solving hunger without your help!  Thank you!

A Spotlight on just a few of Our Amazing Volunteers

Farzin Sabet, Mayerson Distribution Center VolunteerFarzin Sabet
Mayerson Distribution Center
Volunteer

“I started volunteering with the Freestore Foodbank in the summer of 2016. I have had the privilege of contributing money to the Freestore for many years and I decided that I needed to get to know the organization better, so I started volunteering my time.  While donating money is extremely important, spending time and volunteering in person got me closer to those who benefit from the work of the Freestore Foodbank.  Every volunteering session has been energizing and deeply satisfying and I am always impressed by the energy and dedication of the staff and other volunteers.  Since I work full time, I stick with evening shifts at the Mayerson Distribution Center. I know as I pack Power Packs or sort food, that my work is directly helping to feed others.

Al Coston, Customer Connection Center, Food Room VolunteerAl Coston
Customer Connection Center
Food Room Volunteer

Al was born and raised in Cincinnati, and has been a customer and volunteer with the Freestore for years.  He started off volunteering several years ago as a requirement for his SNAP benefits, but once he aged out of the requirement, he continued to volunteer anyways. When asked why he chooses to come down to the Food Room (almost daily) when he could be anywhere else, he said, “It is for the people. I love the staff and the customers—many I know from the neighborhood.”  Al is such a pleasure to have around, and he is a huge help to us. He takes initiative and knows how and when to step in where needed. He is a part of the Freestore Foodbank family.

Victoria Collins, Mayerson Distribution Center, Student NightsVictoria Collins
Mayerson Distribution Center
Student Nights

“I first started volunteering at the Freestore Foodbank in Spring 2015 with the Student Nights and have continued each spring.  I chose the Freestore because it was reliable and, honestly, I needed the hours. But really, I liked knowing I was giving a positive impact on the students around Cincinnati. I also enjoy meeting and getting to know different students and coordinators. I think the Freestore is doing amazing with its different programs to not only help people get by day-to-day, but to also get them back on their feet!”

Constance Chambers, Customer Connection Center, Communication AssistantConstance Chambers
Customer Connection Center
Communication Assistant

Constance came to the Freestore Foodbank through the Mature Services program in March 2016.  Ever since then, she has been a warm and welcoming presence at the Customer Connection Center’s second floor Communication Desk.   A Freestore staff member remarked, “Constance makes everyone welcome and at ease when they come in to seek assistance.  She is always willing to listen to the customer’s story and connects them to the best services that we can provide. Even on our busiest day, she always has a calm voice, an infectious smile and provides the best customer service around.”   Constance says she loves volunteering because of the people.  “No matter what their life circumstance is, I know that when I meet them here, I can make their days a little better, if only for a few minutes.”

Wyoming Middle School – 6th Grade StudentsWyoming Middle School – 6th Grade Students
Mayerson Distribution Center
Power Packs
As a key component of their study on poverty each year, 6th graders from Wyoming Middle School step out of their classroom to volunteer at the Mayerson Distribution Center to prepare Power Packs for hungry children in the Tri-State.  Two of the students explained why volunteering to help others is an important part of learning about the concerns of their neighbors in need.  Sylvia shared, “Volunteering helped me to understand that over 94,000 children do not know where their next meal will come from and by helping to pack the Power Packs, I know at least one of those kids will have a meal for a weekend.”  Ava stated, “While packing with my friends is really fun, it really teaches me that we need to not only study about a problem, but we need to be a part of the solution.”

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  – Margaret Mead

Join Us for the 14th Annual Hunger Walk & 5K Run

Hunger WalkRegistration is OPEN to volunteer for the Hunger Walk & 5K Run on Monday, May 29 at The Banks in downtown Cincinnati. Volunteers are needed to help “run the 5k” behind the scenes. Registration assistance, setup crews, cheerleaders and many more opportunities are available all Memorial Day Weekend long, in addition to the day of the event.  Here’s your chance to lace up your sneakers and help us make sure the Hunger Walk “runs” smoothly!  Click here to view Hunger Walk & 5K Run volunteer opportunities.

Want to walk or run in the actual Hunger Walk & 5K Run or donate to a team? Click here for more information.

All proceeds support the Freestore Foodbank’s network of 350 partner food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and community centers. Through this network, we are able to provide over 23 million meals each year to hungry children and families in 20 counties in Southwest Ohio, Southeast Indiana and Northern Kentucky. One step at a time, one dollar at a time, together we can solve hunger.

Feeding Children during the Summer Months

Feeding Children during the Summer MonthsAre you looking for a group volunteer activity for your team during the summer? Come spend time with us at our Mayerson Distribution Center to assemble Innovative Summer Meal food boxes for children in our rural communities. These food boxes will ensure that children have nutritious meals during the summer months when they are away from school. During the summer, groups up to 40 are invited to participate.  Complete a Group Request form today or call 513-482-7550 to schedule a date.  Groups are needed Tuesday through Saturday with shifts starting at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.  Contact us now to help us feed children!

Volunteers Will Make A Difference at the Giving Fields!

The Giving Fields opens at the end of April!  Don’t miss the opportunity to join us at the farm to plant and prepare the grounds for a fruitful harvest this year!  Last year over 2,400 volunteers were on hand throughout the growing season to cultivate fresh produce for local community partner agencies in Northern Kentucky.  Volunteers of all ages came and planted, weeded and harvested enough fruits and veggies to contribute to more than 110,000 meals.  This would not have been possible without their help!

Volunteers Will Make A Difference at the Giving Fields!

Located in Melbourne, KY, just 15 minutes from Northern Kentucky University, this family friendly volunteer event has something for all ages. No matter how green your thumb is, we have a job for you!  What a great way to learn how to grow produce and give back to the community at the same time!  Come on out and play in the dirt and make a difference for our neighbors in Northern Kentucky!

Click Here for more information on how to register to volunteer.


OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP

thankyou_banner

Thank you to the following groups for your support February 2017!
We sincerely appreciate their continued support and contribution of their time.

Mayerson Distribution Center (Tennessee Avenue)

A Children’s Home
Celanese
Cincinnati Bell
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
Clark Montessori
Delta Sigma Theta
Fifth Third
Flip Side Products
Fort Washington Investment Advisors
Franciscans for the Poor
FTB Financial Services / UBS
General Cable
General Electric (GE)
Girlfriend Inc.
Greater Cincinnati Dietetic Assoc.
Humana
Jace United
Kerry Automotive
Kiwanis
Lakeside Presbyterian
Macy’s
Northern Kentucky University
P & G
Pep Promotions
Pomeroy
Redeemer Church
St. Margaret Knights of Columbus
St. Xavier School
Stoneriver
The Gathering
The Hillman Group
Tri-State Freethinkers
University of Cincinnati
Western Southern Financial
Wyoming Middle School
Ziegler & Schneider

Food Room (Liberty Street)

DePaul Cristo Rey
Fifth Third


FeedingWorks: Transformational Teambuilding

Looking for a new way to strengthen your team’s ability to communicate, problem-solve and manage conflict while improving your opportunities to provide successful outcomes? Looking for an opportunity to not only grow stronger as a team internally, but to make an external impact on the community? Consider FeedingWorks, the Freestore Foodbank’s social enterprise.

FeedingWorks is a unique combination of professional leadership development and the transformational experience of a team working together to make a tangible difference in the lives of others. Teams form genuine bonds through this experience which is based on the principle of giving back while developing yourself and your team.

For more information about how your company can benefit from FeedingWorks, please visit www.feedingworks.com.

Landlord Housing Form

Mediaon March 31st, 2017Comments Off on Landlord Housing Form

Please fill out this form if you are a landlord with an available apartment or other rental opportunity for future tenant requests from the Freestore Foodbank.

LANDLORD CONTACT INFORMATION

Full Name:

Phone Number:

Email Address:

Office Hours:

Upload rental application:

 

AVAILABLE APARTMENT DETAILS

Street Address:

Unit Number:

City:

State:

Zip Code:

Number of Bedrooms:

Included Utilities:

 

TENANT REQUIREMENTS

Rental Deposit:

Do you except housing subsidies?

If yes, list any special criteria:

Do you take renters with a criminal record?

If yes, any special criteria:

Do you take renters with an eviction record?

If yes, any special criteria:

Do you allow pets?

If yes, any special criteria:

Other Requirements (optional):

Learn About Our Volunteers: Victoria

Mediaon March 30th, 2017Comments Off on Learn About Our Volunteers: Victoria

“I first started volunteering at the Freestore Foodbank in Spring 2015 with the Student Nights and have continued each spring.  I chose the Freestore because it was reliable. I like knowing that I am making a positive impact on the students around Cincinnati. I also enjoy meeting and getting to know different students and coordinators. I think the Freestore is doing amazing with its different programs to not only help people get by day-to-day, but to also get them back on their feet!”

Learn About Our Volunteers: Farzin

Mediaon March 30th, 2017Comments Off on Learn About Our Volunteers: Farzin

“I started volunteering with the Freestore Foodbank in the summer of 2016. I have had the privilege of contributing money to the Freestore for many years and I decided that I needed to get to know the organization better, so I started volunteering my time.  While donating money is extremely important, spending time and volunteering in person got me closer to those who benefit from the work of the Freestore Foodbank.  Every volunteering session has been energizing and deeply satisfying and I am always impressed by the energy and dedication of the staff and other volunteers.  Since I work full time, I stick with evening shifts at the Mayerson Distribution Center. I know as I pack Power Packs or sort food, that my work is directly helping to feed others.

Learn About Our Volunteers: Al

Mediaon March 30th, 2017Comments Off on Learn About Our Volunteers: Al

Al was born and raised in Cincinnati, and has been a customer and volunteer with the Freestore for years.  He started off volunteering several years ago as a requirement for his SNAP benefits, but once he aged out of the requirement, he continued to volunteer anyways. When asked why he chooses to come down to the Food Room (almost daily) when he could be anywhere else, he said, “It is for the people. I love the staff and the customers—many I know from the neighborhood.”  Al is such a pleasure to have around, and he is a huge help to us. He takes initiative and knows how and when to step in where needed. He is a part of the Freestore Foodbank family.